Premier doesn't rule out 2nd Fort McMurray highway
Premier says government is considering new highway as it assesses wildfire response
Premier Rachel Notley hasn't ruled out supporting a $1.5-billion highway that could serve as a second evacuation route out of Fort McMurray.
Notley said Wednesday her government would consider the need for a second major north-south roadway as it reviews the response to the May wildfire that forced a mass evacuation.
She suggested the review would consider how quickly and safely people were able to evacuate along Highway 63.
"And so we are going to see what [the review] has to say about the safety elements of that matter and what the best way to respond to it is," Notley said.
- Traffic-clogged highway during Fort McMurray wildfire spurs call for 2nd highway
- 2 die in fiery crash on Highway 881 south of Fort McMurray
Notley was in Fort McMurray to see the progress of rebuilding after May's wildfire destroyed more than 2,700 homes and apartments
This week the Wood Buffalo municipality voted to lobby the government to support the highway project. Councilors said the wildfire underlined the urgent need for a second highway.
If there was a second evacuation road out, councillors said as many as 88,000 people wouldn't have been stuck hours in traffic as wildfire ashes and embers rained down.
Some residents were forced to head north towards the Métis and First Nations community of Fort McKay because Highway 63 was clogged with traffic or blocked by a wall of fire.
"It's a miracle we all survived and it's a miracle we are still here," Coun. Keith McGrath said at Tuesday night's council meeting.
Wood Buffalo municipality estimates designing the highway will cost $15 million.
It hopes the province, the federal government and industry will share the costs of designing and building the road that would run east of Fort McMurray and connect to Highway 881.