WHEREAS the purpose of Alberta’s provincial highway system is to provide efficient and safe travel opportunities to the general driving public as well as agricultural and commercial operations; and
WHEREAS the Government of Alberta installs high tension cable barriers (HTCB) on four-lane provincial highways as well on two-lane provincial highways; and
WHEREAS the Government of Alberta is installing HTCB as a preferred barrier system and a standard to replace the traditional guardrail system where feasible on four-lane provincial highways as well on two-lane provincial highways; and
WHEREAS there are many safety hazards created by having HTCB installed on two-lane highways;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties urge the Government of Alberta to remove high tension cable barriers from all two-lane provincial highways.
High Tension Cable Barriers (HTCB) are being installed on provincial highways in the Province of Alberta. These devices consist of metal posts fixed into the sides of the roadways, often being located very close to the driving lanes, with metal cables extending the length of the barrier. The purpose of these barriers is to keep motorists from going into the ditch where a side slope is determined to be sub-standard or where there are hazards in the clear zone. The intended purpose of the barriers is to prevent people from entering the ditch in places where it may prevent or reduce the severity of run-off-road incidents. When HTCB are installed between lanes of traffic on four-lane highways the value of these devices is clear, however when used on two-lane highways, the hazards created by HTCB are much greater than the dangers they are meant to alleviate. Two land highways have a narrower right of way than four lane highways and also have a narrower distance between the driving lane and the edge of the road surface.
The height of HTCB makes it difficult for wide loads lower than approximately four (4) feet to travel on the highway. The types of wide loads that will be affected are farm equipment, heavy trucks, and oversize loads such as modular homes. Highways are very critical to the efficient movement of large equipment utilized in this day and age in the agricultural industry. Those in the agriculture and many other industries move low, wide equipment on the provincial highways and the HTCB will either deter them from utilizing the highways, or will force them to drive down the middle of the roadway, which could make for dangerous situations.
HTCB have the high potential of eliminating any escape route a vehicle, or other type of traffic, may have in the case where there is an oncoming vehicle which has crossed the center line of the highway.
In the case where HTCB are installed close to the travelling surface of the highway, they may not allow for effective and efficient snow removal, and in such cases the snow would remain on the travel surface of the highway and would hinder the safety of traffic as the travelling surface would become narrower. Removal of snow from the travelling surface of a roadway into the ditch area plays an important part in ensuring that the melting of snow does not create an ice hazard on a roadway when it freezes.
HTCB may hinder efficient and effective mowing of roadside grass, and there is concern with the overgrowth alongside the travelling surface of a highway having a high potential of reducing the visibility of wildlife coming onto highways.
HTCB may hinder pedestrian and bicycle traffic from travelling away from vehicles and/or escaping vehicle traffic when in a suddenly changing situation.
HTCB could have a potential of reducing safety to the travelling public in the case where a vehicle does collide with an HTCB, where the vehicle could possibly veer back into moving traffic rather than the vehicle going off into a ditch area, thus creating a more dangerous situation to any other travelers on the highway.
The AAMDC has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.