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City looks into possibility of raising speed limit on Whitemud

EDMONTON – A discussion about changing the speed limit of Scona Road has also brought up debate over Whitemud Drive’s limit.

In a meeting Wednesday morning, a city transportation committee voted to change the posted speed limit on Manning Drive between 137th Avenue and Anthony Henday Drive, dropping it to 70 km/h from 90 km/h. Ellerslie Road between 127th and 50th streets will drop to 60 km/hr from 80 km/h.

Councillors also asked city administration to review the speed limit of Whitemud Drive, which is currently 80 km/h.

“I’m sure that there are technical reasons for it being 80,” said Councillor Bryan Anderson. “The fact that the distances between the on and off ramps from Calgary Trail ‘on’ to 111 Street ‘off’ is too short a distance to get up to 90 to merge.”

“I think that the review and the report that comes back will identify any potential problems and if there are none that are insurmountable, then I have no difficulty with the speed on the Whitemud being 90,” he added.

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Mayor Stephen Mandel says it should be at least 90 km/h if not 100 km/h since it is technically a freeway.

“I’m not sure if 100 km is the right answer,” said Councillor Ed Gibbons, “but what it is now, it’s different speeds all the way along, people are confused… we need to be consistent.”

He said more decisions can be made once the city administration completes the report.

“Send it back and then decide what is the proper speed limit? Is it a freeway? Is it just an arterial road?”

“If it’s safe to go 90, go 90,” added Gibbons. “Is it safer to keep it at 80? Keep it at 80.”

Councillor Amarjeet Sohi said he’s been asked by a number of residents why the speed on the Whitemud isn’t higher than 80 km/h.

“What we are asking administration to do is to explore the possibilities,” explained Sohi. “It’s just a report.”

Drivers have mixed feelings about the possibility of a higher speed limit on the Whitemud.

“We would just require a longer merge-in section and a longer shoulder to get up and then slow down,” said Karen Koyich. “I think otherwise it would be fine.”

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“I think people sort of gauge their speed limit ten or so over, so they’re just going to be faster if the speed limit was raised,” said Nicole MacDonald. “They’d probably go 110. I just don’t think it’s safe.”

City council asked for a similar review 13 years ago.

The report found that there are differing conditions along the Whitemud, including sharp curves north of Quesnell Bridge, left hand exits at Terwillegar Drive, and sections with no shoulders. Therefore, a conscious decision was made to have the speed limit at 80 km/h to promote consistency.

You can view the full report here.

Councillor Sohi says that now that there have been a number of construction projects altering the Whitemud (at Quesnell Bridge and 17 Street, for example), it’s time for another review.

What do you think?

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