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Speed limit on Panache Lake Road drops to 70 km/h

Change prompted by request from residents, collision history
Using a national guideline for determining proper speed on roads, city staff has recommended that the speed limit on Panache Lake Road be reduced to 70 km/h from 80. (File)

The speed limit along a section of Panache Lake Road in Whitefish is being reduced from 80 km/h to 70.

Members of the city's operations committee recently approved the change, which was prompted by requests from residents in the area.

When such requests are received, city staff conducts an analysis that looks at factors such as the type of road, how much traffic it carries and the number of collisions in the area. That data is compiled into a risk assessment score, which determines the proper speed limit.

In this case, they looked at Panache Lake Road from MR55 to just north of Suihkola Road.

“Panache Lake Road is collector road, located in Whitefish, which provides a connection for the rural properties in the area to and from Municipal Road 55,” the report said. “It is constructed to a rural standard with asphalt surface width that varies from 6.5 to 7.0 metres and gravel shoulders.”

That section of road handles an average of 920 vehicles a day, and Panache becomes a 60 km/h zone as you head south. Two sections were studied: from MR55 to Grassy Lake Road, and Grassy Lake to Suihkola.

The city uses something called the 'Canadian Guidelines for Establishing Posted Limits,' published by the Transportation Association of Canada, which outlines how to determine the risk score. Based on the risk score, it recommends what the speed limit should be.

“Applying the physical characteristics of each segment to the Canadian Guidelines and using a functional classification of a 'two-lane rural undivided major collector,' yields a total risk score of 31 and 32 for the two segments and results in a recommended speed limited of 70 km/h,” the report said.

In addition, there have been 10 collisions along that section between 2015-2019, of which eight were single-vehicle crashes. Speed is typically a factor in single-vehicle collisions, the report said.

“Additionally, there are several horizontal curves along Panache Lake Road that have a measured 'comfortable' speed of less than 70 km/h,” the report said. “City staff will be making improvements to the existing curve warning and advisory speed signs to further enhance safety.”