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Friday, 15 June 2012 10:32

City and province to meet after second highway fatality at Swift Current

Written by  Matthew Liebenberg
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The death of a second pedestrian who was hit by a semi while crossing the Trans-Canada Highway within city limits has prompted a meeting between the City of Swift Current, the RCMP and the Saskatchewan Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure.

Jason Froshaug, a 35-year-old Swift Current resident, was struck and fatally wounded while crossing southbound across the westbound lanes in the vicinity of the Living Sky Casino on June 6 at about 1 a.m.
On March 22, a 31-year-old man from Winkler, Manitoba was killed after he was hit by a semi in the eastbound lane of Highway 1 near the 6th Avenue N.E. exit.
RCMP Corporal Greg Smith said two pedestrian fatalities within such a short timeframe is a real concern to them.
“We’re asking the public to exercise extreme caution if and when they need to cross the highway,” he mentioned. “Look both ways and understand that what appears to be far away on the highway necessarily isn’t.”
Swift Current Mayor Jerrod Schafer expressed condolences with Froshaug’s family and friends.
“Jason was somebody that I went to high school with in the middle years and graduated with, so I knew him,” he said. “When you’re on council, your heart breaks when you hear stories like that.”
He emphasized the safety and security of residents are always a priority for the City of Swift Current, but the City cannot respond unilaterally to address concerns over Highway 1.
“The hard reality of it is Highway 1 is the jurisdiction of the province,” he said. “We can’t lower the speed limit, we can’t install lights. That’s something that we have to push and work with our provincial counterparts.”
A meeting between City officials, the RCMP and representatives from the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure has been scheduled for June 15.
Highways and Infrastructure Communications Manager Kirsten Leatherdale also emphasized the ministry’s concern over these incidents.
“We would obviously discourage any pedestrian from walking on the highway or crossing the highway, especially at night,” she said. “We are in the process of conducting a speed study and doing pedestrian counts as a result of the fatalities.”
According to Leatherdale, there are various safety options that can be used along high-speed corridors, including lower speed limits, fencing or a pedestrian overpass. Typically, a pedestrian overpass will be installed in combination with fencing.
“People will ignore the pedestrian overpass because they have to walk to it, they have to go up a bunch of stairs,” she explained. “They would just cross the highway on their own anyway, so you have to have fencing with it.”
She noted it is difficult to prevent someone from crossing a highway at an unsafe location if they have made a decision to do so.
“What we can say right now is just simply don’t walk on the highway, don’t try to attempt to cross the highway and at night time trying to attempt to cross the highway is just an inherently dangerous thing to do,” she emphasized.
Schafer said the two fatalities have resulted in a lot of discussion among residents about the issue of safety around Highway 1.
“Our community would like to see something happen and I don’t think anybody argues with that,” he mentioned. “It’s finding the solution and getting that partnership with the Ministry of Highways. I hope our residents realize it isn’t the City burying our head in the sand and not doing anything. By legislation we can’t and so we’re just going to work with our partners and do the best we can on behalf of our residents.”

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