Rallying for twinning of Highway 63
Published Saturday, May 5, 2012 4:11PM MDT
They came out in droves, protesting for the twinning of what many call "Alberta's deadliest highway". Highway 63 is in the spotlight, after seven people were killed on that stretch of road last week.
Carrying signs that read "Pray for me, I drive 63" and "Twin 63", more than 1000 people gathered at MacDonald Island Park in Fort McMurray Saturday to pressure the province to fast track plans for the twinning of the highway.
The rally began with a moment of silence and a short prayer to remember the victims of last Friday's crash and the others who have perished over the past few years.
One mom shared her story of loss with CTV News. Her son was killed on New Year's Day in a crash on Highway 63.
"After living here for 32 years," she said. "I have lost so many friends, but my son was too much."
The deaths have left a void in the community of Fort McMurray, but have also riled anger among residents. Seven people were killed, including a two-year-old boy, an 11-year-old girl and a pregnant woman. A man and a toddler are still recovering in hospital. The boy's entire family was killed in the crash.
The organizer of the event says she was compelled into action. Nicole Auser believes the deaths could have been avoided if the highway was twinned.
"Not everyone drives like maniacs but there are a few people that are endangering people's lives," said Auser. "By separating the northbound and southbound lanes were going to reduce the chances of a head-on collision."
Earlier in the week, Premier Alison Redford addressed the growing call to speed up work. She thinks the work needs to move faster. Since 2006, 33 kilometres of Highway 63 has been twinned, Alberta Transportation said another 36 kilometres are expected to be twinned by the fall of 2013.
Deputy premier Doug Horner told CTV News crews are dealing with marshland along the route, which has seriously slowed work.
Many residents are calling on the oil companies to also get involved, to help fund the work. It's something Fort McMurray MLA Don Scott says will be considered.
"I want to see what steps we can take to accelerate the twinning," said Scott. "The premier's already made a commitment that there's going to be a refreshed look at that."
According to Alberta Transportation, 46 people were killed on Highway 63 between 2006 and 2010.
With files from CTV's Amanda Anderson…