It's taken the Town of Neepawa years of lobbying, but the Provincial Government has finally listened and is granting one of council's long-standing wishes.
Mayor Ken Waddell and Councillor Monty Simon confirmed to The Neepawa Press that the Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation (MIT) department is still planning to add traffic lights at the junction of Highway 5 and 16 later this year.
“The lights are scheduled to go in before freeze-up this fall, according to MIT,” Waddell explained last Tuesday.
The Town originally announced in May that MIT had agreed to erect the traffic lights at the junction within the year.
“Thanks to lobbying by this council, past councils, and the TCYHA, traffic lights are scheduled to be installed...to be done at MIT's expense,” Waddell explained during the announcement at that time.
Traffic safety has been council's main priority in requesting the lights at the corner. Increased traffic over the years, as well as council's plans to develop the CN Property just off the junction, West of Highway 16, also brought forth concerns regarding traffic flow at the corner.
“If only there was a set of traffic lights at this corner. At least then the wait time traversing from 5 to 16 would be consistent,” Simon noted in a blog post last September, prior to MIT's announcement. “That corner is an accident waiting to happen.”
“Your Town Council has diligently appealed to the Province annually to have signals installed at this corner for the last number of years, to the point it's almost embarrassing to some of us. The response is always the same; 'our traffic counts do not warrant the installation of traffic controls at this time, but we'll check again next year...',” Simon continued in his blog post, prior to MIT's announcement to comply to the request this past May.
According to data collected by MIT, and presented to The Press by Simon, a traffic count in May of 2007 suggested a total traffic flow of just under 11,000 vehicles during a 24-hour period at the junction.
That number is expected to have grown since that point due to natural growth in road travelling as well as the much-welcome additions of the Esso service/gas station and Tim Hortons in Neepawa at that corner.