Highway hopes and hinders

By DAWN BOOTH, Managing Editor of Connect Weekly

As I rarely travel Highway 63 – once or twice a year for family trips – last Friday’s travel South put me around 120 kilometres at ease.

Alberta Transportation recently announced the opening of a newly-twinned section on Highway 63 at the 63 kilometre marker. Less than a week after the August 14th announcement, there was another highway collision (not on the twinned portion). The accident involving two vehicles (one, a semi-tractor trailer unit and one, a pick-up truck) left one male seriously injured on Highway 63, approximately 25km north of Boyle, on August 26, 2015.

After reading the release, my first thought: Another accident. Thankfully, not another death.

The fear of vehicle accidents rarely leave my mind. And at times, I feel as though my past from Ontario has followed me to Fort McMurray – an unpredictable coincidence. I wasn’t aware that I’d be moving to a place that’s only road of entry, travelling north, had names like “Death Highway” and “Highway of Death” to harshly remind me of the loved ones who have passed away.

When I attended college in Ontario, I lost a childhood friend, a roommate and a class mate to motor vehicle accidents – three friends in three years… their accidents took an impact on my life. And it wasn’t until my second child almost turned one, when I finally had the courage to get my drivers’ license in Fort McMurray. At this point, I had to learn how to drive – not to have my own independence, but to give my children the ability to depend on me.

I have always been aware of how the effect of Highway 63 has taken a toll on our residents, our community. Many residents before me – mourning mothers and political figures – have pressed their pens and shared their heartaches on the Highway 63 issue.

The positive outcome of my unpredictable coincidence – the only positive from such tragedies -is that I’m living among a community of people who can first-hand relate to my pain. It’s a time-tested method that support groups help people who struggle from loss.

The positive outcome of my unpredictable coincidence – the only positive from such tragedies -is that I’m living among a community of people who can first-hand relate to my pain. It’s a time-tested method that support groups help people who struggle from loss. Numerous times, we’ve come together in groups to rally our concerns about the highway; to seek the solutions; and to pay our respects. I believe all of this has made us stronger.

The latest Highway 63 twinning completion is something our entire community can be content about, to an extent.
The future of a twinned Highway 63 has been promised, this we know. With the completion date projected in the fall of 2016, now is the time to better educate ourselves about how to properly share a twinned highway.

But until the twinning – and forever on – we will have to promise and put trust in ourselves – and the motorists around us – to drive aware, to drive alert and always drive with caution.

With our Northern weather and other elements, vehicle accidents will still occur. But, I know a twinned-highway will be something our community can benefit from. And, I hope, there will be a day that the harsh reminder names of our highway, like “Highway of Death,” will be long forgotten… a day where our children will only know it as: “The Highway to Home.”

Stay CONNECTed!

– Connect Weekly –