Protesters rally for twinning of Alberta highway where Newfoundland family died

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THE CANADIAN PRESS

FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. — A convoy of buses was used at a rally to help persuade the Alberta government to move more quickly on improvements to an Alberta highway that was the scene of a horrific crash last week.

Organizers say each bus at Saturday’s rally represented one of the seven victims who died in the two vehicle-crash on Highway 63. An eighth bus was added for the unborn child of one of the victims.

The woman who was carrying the child was an employee of Diversified Transportation, the company that supplied the buses.

People who attended the rally called for the province to speed up plans to twin the highway, which is the main route between Edmonton and the oilsands capital of Fort McMurray.

“There were a couple of speeches that moved people to tears. I know I was crying,” said rally organizer Nicole Auser.

“We’re still a community in mourning. It’s really fresh and really raw. We all know it could’ve been any one of us on that highway because we all travel on it so often,” she added.

Media reports put the turnout for the rally in the hundreds.

The province announced in 2006 that it was going to twin the 240-kilometre stretch of road, but only a handful of kilometres have been constructed so far.

Musicians at the rally performed songs they composed about the tragedy, and the mother of a man killed on the highway on New Year’s Eve also spoke. There was also an email that was read from a man who survived the most recent tragedy, who is recovering in hospital in Edmonton.

Many of the people at the rally carried signs that said, “Pray For Me, I Drive 63.”

“It was very quiet when people spoke. You looked around and there were people wiping tears from their eyes,” said Carl Longe, a Fort McMurray resident who attended the rally.

Longe said he’s had to stop to help at accidents on the highway a number of times, and noted that every time he drives it he sees something that scares him.

Anne Kendall of Diversified Transportation said drivers with the bus company also see the tragedies and the near misses, which she said is why it was important for the company to be a part of the rally.

Kendall said that when members of her own family are on the highway, she gets them to text her every hour to assure her they’re alright.

“You breath a sigh of relief,” Kendall said.

Premier Alison Redford has said she will ask her new transportation minister, after cabinet is sworn in, to make twinning Highway 63 a priority.

Geographic location: Alberta, Northern Alberta, Fort McMurray Edmonton

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  • starr
    May 07, 2012 - 09:17

    Yo mamma You have obviuosly never driven Hwy 63. For a single highway to have to handle that amount of traffic, the type of traffic and for the lenght of time it takes to get from fort Mac to Edmonton - its a dangerous highway. Don't be so quick to make uninformed statements. When people are on a highway for that long, many under deadlines and time pressure, encountering all the delays and obstacles presented by 63, their behavior is predictable, thus making it dangerous to be on the highway.

  • yo mama
    May 06, 2012 - 18:56

    There's no such thing as a dangerous road, it's as dangrous as drivers make it.

  • Harold
    May 06, 2012 - 14:46

    a message to the residents of Fort McMurray... you get what you fight for not what you deserve. we all know this highway should have been twinned 20 years ago. get the companies on your side or hold a day of rememberence once a year where no worker will report to work north of town.