Consulting firm McElhanney completes safety assessment of Broncos crash intersection

19 December 2018 3 min. read
More news on

Vancouver-based surveying and engineering consultancy McElhanney has completed its review of the Saskatchewan intersection that was the site of the Humboldt Broncos bus collision. The 70-page review into the rural intersection of Highways 35 and 335 makes over a dozen safety recommendations, including tree removal and painting ‘stop’ warnings on the road.

On April 6, a semi-trailer traveling on Highway 335 allegedly failed to heed a stop sign and collided with a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos hockey team, killing 16 and injuring 13 others. The truck’s driver, Jaskirat Sidhu, has been charged by the RCMP with 16 counts of dangerous driving causing death and 13 counts of dangerous driving causing bodily injury.

In the wake of the tragedy, Saskatchewan’s government announced that it would hire a private consultancy to conduct a safety assessment. That assessment, conducted by McElhanney, was released last week. The consulting firm specializes in surveying, engineering, GIS, landscape architecture, and environmental services.

Among the report’s 13 recommendations are the removal of a stand of trees mostly on private property that obstructs the view of drivers approaching the intersection from the south and east. The province already removed a number of trees on public property near the intersection, and will undoubtedly work with the property owner as it seeks to implement the review’s 13 recommendations.Consulting firm McElhanney completes safety assessment of Broncos crash intersectionOther recommendations include painting ‘Stop’ and ‘Stop Ahead’ on the Highway 335 surface to increase awareness of the upcoming stop. The province says it implemented the recommendation last week, while also reducing the speed limit at the intersection from 100 km/h to 60 km/h. Meanwhile, the further recommendation of rumble strips will be implemented next year.

The options of a roundabout or four-way stop were rejected by the firm’s assessment. Though McElhanney acknowledged that roundabouts can reduce collisions by up to 40%, the traffic volume imbalance (i.e. much higher volume of traffic on the non-stopping Highway 35) and historic low collision history of the Tinsdale-area intersection made the proposal unfeasible.

A previous collision at the intersection between a semi-trailer and a car in 1997 which claimed the lives of six people was the only other fatal collision at the crossing of Highways 335 and 35. "Although there have been two multiple fatality collisions at the intersection, the location does not have a high overall frequency of collisions, including high-severity collisions," the review concludes.

Likewise, a four-way stop was rejected because of the higher traffic volume of Highway 35, and the greater risk of rear-end collisions that the introduction of a stop sign would create.

McElhanney’s report also suggests moving the access road to the Cargill grain elevator south to Highway 335, as well as relocating the current memorial at the intersection to a safer location due to the high volume of visitors. The government is currently discussing the creation of a space where people can safely pull over.

Together, the rumble strips, wider assortment of signage, and improved sight lines should serve to make the intersection safer. However, as Fred Antunes, deputy minister of Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure, relates, the human element remains critical. "It requires all drivers to pay attention to what they're doing, follow the rules of the road, and if drivers don't do that we're still going to have accidents."