While many people may have questioned whether a group of trees by the intersection of Highways 35 and 335 played a role in the deadly Humboldt Broncos bus crash, a councillor and deputy reeve of the Rural Municipality of Connaught isn’t convinced.
“I don’t believe they’re an issue. I think, let’s put something in place so that the traffic has a warning that there’s a stop sign ahead. If you stop at the stop sign, the trees don’t impede your vision to the south,” said Ian Boxall.
Instead, what Boxall and the RM would like to see are rumble strips put in prior to the intersection.
“If the driver is a little bit out of it, he crosses those rumble strips, that’ll give him an indication that there’s something coming up,” said Boxall.
The deadly crash last Friday claimed the lives of at least 16 people so far.
He said the incident is an opportunity for the government to also review all intersecting highways in Saskatchewan. Boxall said the RM can’t make those kinds of decisions; it’s up to the provincial government.
Ministry of Highways responds
Rumble strips at that particular intersection may not be possible.
“The type of pavement that exists on Highway 335, we can’t do rumble strips the way we normally do them,” said Doug Wakabayashi from the Ministry of Highways.
He said the reason for that is because the road isn’t thick enough there to cut strips in.
Normally, rumble strips are cut about a half inch into thick asphalt concrete pavement Wakabayashi explained. The road there is what he called seal granular pavement or an asphalt oil mixed with gravel.
While Wakabayashi said the way the road is built now doesn’t have the thickness for strips. He said they are looking into the potential of upgrading part of the intersection with thicker pavement in order to put them in. He said they are also researching what other jurisdictions have done to warn drivers using a similar road surface.
An important indicator of what improvements — if any — are made to the intersection will depend on what police find.
“A key input for us in the determination of major causes,” said Wakabayashi.
Besides rumble strips, he said things like additional pavement markings, lighting, signage or guardrails could be used to enhance safety.
The ministry can still do its own investigation while a cause of the fatal collision is determined by RCMP. He said they’ve been out ensuring signage is properly erected and flashing lights are in working order. Crews have also been measuring distances; both of how far away signs are and how far away the tree line is.
Wakabayashi said there are 26,000 kilometres of highways in Saskatchewan and that many intersections are unique.