Highway construction aims to curb oilpatch congestion

FORT McMURRAY, Alta. — Police are cracking down on a stretch of highway between Edmonton and the province’s northern oilpatch region, as construction projects are underway to relieve congestion.

In 2008, RCMP and provincial sheriffs have issued more than 2,000 speeding tickets to people driving on Highway 63. The two-lane highway is the main link between Alberta’s capital city and Fort McMurray.

From truck traffic to oilpatch workers heading in and out of the region, vehicles are constantly heading in both directions along the stretch of road. Local RCMP have begun cracking down along the highway in an effort to reduce death and serious injury collisions.

At least six people have died in accidents on Highway 63 this year and another 10 were killed last year. Between 2001 and 2005, there were more than 1,000 collisions on the highway, killing 25 people.

Area stakeholders have been lobbying the government for years to twin the main thoroughfare; and their efforts are starting to get results.

More than $600 million worth of transportation projects are underway or starting this year on Highway 63. As well as new interchanges and bridges in the region, twinning of Highway 63 is beginning with 16 km south of the city and 17 km north of the city.

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