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Beach Corner and Highway 16A intersection redesign calls mount

Written by Javed Iqbal

A Parkland County intersection known as the “death trap” or “devil’s intersection” for how many fatalities it causes claimed the life of another person this week as residents continued to push for a redesign.

A line of memorials and crosses along the median and ditches around where Range Road 20 and Highway 16A meet west of Edmonton.

On Wednesday, a 22-year-old woman was killed in a two-vehicle crash around 1:35 p.m. – a year and a day after the last fatal collision in the same area.

Bryan Kwasnycia’s daughter Jade, a fourth-year education student who regularly volunteered in the community, died while trying to cross Highway 16A.

“It’s been really tough for us,” Kwasnycia said. “It basically brought our world to a standstill. We’re just learning to deal.”

Jade Kwasnycia in a photo provided to CTV News Edmonton.

“We knew that intersection,” he said. “My uncle was in an accident there. My wife was actually in an accident there. School buses have been hit at that intersection.”

“I just had an accident there,” he added. “A very near miss.”

In fact, school buses are no longer allowed to use that intersection, where drivers have to walk half a mile to use Range Road 15 instead, Kwasnycia says.

Keshia Korrall, a resident of the area, was the first person on the scene on August 2 last year when another fatal accident occurred.

“A lot of the first responders showed a lot of anger and they said they had just been there the week before and they had at least one to two accidents there a month,” Korral said.

“It really upset me,” she said.

The crash killed 25-year-old TJ, a construction worker and cabinetmaker. Tim Holmes, his father, described him as a loving and uplifting man with a big personality.

“It was very difficult,” Holmes said. “Knowing that this is the incident that now the rest of your life will never be the same.”

“With TJ’s passing, at the time, I wasn’t angry,” he added. “But I will tell you, when I found out about this accident that happened (this week), God bless the family, I was angry.

“I was angry at the situation, that it happened (again)… to another family.”

TJ holds her one-year-old son Braxton (Supplied).

NO LINES OF SIGHT

Korrall became an advocate pushing to have that intersection redesigned to prevent additional families from being erected, start a petition with more than 2,800 signatures and a Facebook group of 1,300 members.

“I just got hold of the transport minister and just kept pushing and pushing,” Korrall said. “They have made some changes, but obviously not enough that it will help anything.”

Kwasnycia, who has lived in the area since he was six years old, says the intersection is deadly because of limited visibility.

Highway 16A eastbound arrives at the top of a hill to meet Range Road 20, he added, offering drivers on both lanes no time to react.

“It’s so dangerous,” Kwasnycia said. “Everyone around here knows.”

“Because of the angle, you’re there as soon as you move. Neither driver has a chance to react.

“When I go and my family goes, we try to drive up to the intersection to get a double look.”

Korrall agreed, saying some people just avoid it outright.

‘OF SIGNIFICANT CONCERN’

Allan Gamble, the Parkland County mayor, told CTV News that the intersection had been a “high collision area” for years.

“It is of significant concern to Parkland County,” he said. “We remain concerned about the safety of this highway and intersection, and we call on the provincial government to address these safety concerns.”

At every meeting with the province, Gamble said he reiterates the need for changes to the intersection.

“There are a number of reaches that tie into the highway for access, and with the increasing population and increasing traffic along Highway 16A, it’s more important now more than ever that we speak up for the provincial government,” Gamble said.

“To provide the necessary infrastructure so our residents don’t have to cross that highway,” he added.

A sign along Highway 16A marks the intersection with Range Road 20, which locals call the “devil’s intersection”.

Gamble believes that adding merging lanes or changing the speed limit could help solve safety issues in the short term, but wants to have actual service roads gather area traffic toward overpasses to prevent crossing multiple lanes on Highway 16A.

“We are working with the province, but the ultimate responsibility lies with the province and the minister of transportation.”

‘WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING’

Haydn Place, acting chief of staff to Transportation Minister Prasad Panda, told CTV News in a statement that the ministry is “currently reviewing options” for the intersection, including complete relocation.

“Short-term safety improvements, including an ‘important intersection ahead’ flashing light sign, an oversized ‘checkerboard’ sign and improved lighting have been completed at this intersection,” Place said.

“Preliminary data shows that the number of collisions has decreased following the installation of the ‘Important Intersection Ahead’ sign in 2018,” Place added.

Between 2014 and 2018, there were 48 accidents at or within 300 meters of the intersection, excluding terrain and collisions with animals, Place says.

Of these, 28 involved injuries and 21 were non-fatal accidents. No data was provided for collisions from 2019 to now.

For Korrall, these extra signs do “nothing” as collisions with injuries and fatalities continue to happen.

“We have to do something,” Korrall said. “This is enough.”

“The frustrating thing is the province knows about it, the county knows about it, transportation knows about it,” Kwasnycia said. “How many more intersections do we have to put up at that intersection before they do something?”

Holmes wants the province to act sooner rather than later, no matter the cost.

“Whoever makes these decisions, (they have to) really put it into perspective to put themselves at risk and what this (intersection) takes,” Holmes said. “You have to do something.”

“I don’t want more people to have this feeling,” he added. “If you can do anything to change whoever is making these decisions, please do them.”

“You can’t put a price on the life of a person and a family.”

With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Alex Antoneshyn and Jessica Robb

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Javed Iqbal

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