FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. — With northern Alberta’s oilsands activity booming, Fort McMurray is seeing an increase in industrial traffic.
But a recent report commissioned by the province says that the much-anticipated ring road around the city isn’t a practical solution to the increased traffic flow. And that doesn’t sit well with some city councillors.
"We’re talking about $101 million for improvements to Hwy. 63 in the medium term. Would we not be able to forego some of them if we built a ring road instead?" asked a baffled Coun. Maggie Lent-O’Forhan at a recent council meeting. "When you look at the billions of dollars in oilsands activity, how do you see us facilitating those projects and not doing a ring road? There’s a real concern of safety and transportation of dangerous goods."
Consultant Steve Quiring conducted the report for Alberta Transportation, and he saw the situation differently.
"Most of the traffic on the highway is expected to have origin or destination in Fort McMurray, or stop for gas, food or lodging," says Quiring.
Alberta Transportation does, however, plan to conduct a risk assessment study in a year or two to determine whether the goods being hauled through the area pose a risk to residents, justifying the expense of a bypass.
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