Highway 63 twinning in full swing

Highway 63 twinning in full swing
Highway crews pave a newly-twinned section of Highway 63 near Wandering River.Photo: Government of Alberta.

Motorists on northern Alberta’s Highway 63 to Fort McMurray will soon see another 32 km of the treacherous highway on its way to being twinned, according to the department of Transportation, which released an update on construction activities last week.

The section of roadway between House River and Mariana Lake is the next to be twinned, following the completion of a number of passing lanes and slide repairs done this summer.

The 32-km project was awarded through competitive tender to Carmacks Group Ltd. for $147 million and is scheduled to be finished by 2015.

“We remain on track to meet the accelerated fall 2016 twinning schedule,” Alberta Transportation Minister Ric McIver said in a press release. “This project is one of many major investments we are making to build Alberta, grow our economy, enhance market access and benefit all Albertans.”

In addition to grading and paving the two new lanes, three new bridges will be built over Bear Creek, Crow Creek and the House River.

Crews began working on the site in mid August and work is expected to be in full swing by early September, with workers grading around the clock beginning at House River and making their way north.

More than $350 million has been invested into twinning Highway 63 between Grasslands and Fort McMurray since 2005, and Albertans will see another three years of construction on the highway before the $1-billion project is completed by the scheduled date of fall 2016.

The highway is being twinned specially for the size of industrial vehicles used in the oilsands, 30 per cent of which are heavy loads.

Measures are also being implemented to protect wildlife along the entire route, which crosses two caribou management zones, according to the province.

Apart from restrictions on construction activity during bird nesting and in-stream activity, there will be 10-metre gaps left every 200 metres in topsoil stockpiles along the construction site to permit wildlife passage.

Spawning pools are also being constructed near the House River bridge site to help promote the Alberta government’s recovery goal of Arctic grayling and other fish species, and turbidity monitoring will be conducted on a regular basis.

Drivers are cautioned to obey all signs, flag people and posted speed limits in construction zones during the construction period.

Highway 63 projects recently tendered or under construction

  • 27 km of twinning grading near Wandering River – fall 2013 completion
  • Climbing lanes north of Crow Lake Provincial Park to south of Highway 881 junction – completed summer 2013
  • 5 km of tree clearing south of House River to north of Mariana Lake – completed spring 2013
  • 17 km of twinning grading from north of Algar Tower to south of Horse Creek – summer 2014 completion
  • 15 km of twinning grading from north of Mariana Lake to north of Algar Tower – fall 2013 completion
  • 17 km of twinning grading from north of La Biche River to south of Wandering River – spring 2014 completion
  • Slide repairs south of Highway 881 – completed summer 2013
  • La Biche River bridge 14 km north of Atmore – summer 2014 completion
  • 32 km of twinning (grading/paving/bridges) from south of House River to north of Crow Creek – fall 2015 completion

Highway 63 projects expected to be awarded by the end of 2013

  • 8 km of twinning (grading/paving/bridges) from south of Horse Creek to north of Hanging Stone River – fall 2015 completion
  • Three Wandering River bridges – summer 2014 completion
  • 17 km of base and pave from north of La Biche River to south of Wandering River – 2015 completion
  • 27 km of base and pave near Wandering River – 2015 completion
  • 32 km of base and pave from north of Mariana Lake to south of Horse Creek – 2015 completion

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