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Former Recovery Committee member skeptical of secondary highway announcement

Last Updated Mar 28, 2019 at 12:29 pm MST

NDP Leader Rachel Notley has promised to build a secondary highway out of Fort McMurray if she’s re-elected on April 16.

Not everyone is convinced she’ll make that happen.

Marty Giles, a former member of the now dismantled Wood Buffalo Recovery Committee (WBRC), said that the little progress on the project so far has made him skeptical.

“From May 2017, I guess, they’ve sort of committed to it, then they said they’d do something. Now all of a sudden, we’ve lost another two years here and it’s a burning platform.”

When asked which direction he’d like to see the road built, he said millions of dollars have been spent studying the best option.

“The experts say the east is the best route for all kinds of different reasons. There’s some merit to the west by the way. There’s some merit to all of them, but when you add it all up nothing’s perfect.”

On the one year anniversary of the wildfire the municipality announced a $5 million feasibility study was underway.

During the final meeting of the WBRC in 2017, Giles said a second highway would also provide another route for dangerous goods and industrial traffic to be diverted around the urban surface area.

From an emergency perspective, a highway to the west would likely reconnect with Highway 63, causing congestion at that point in the event of evacuation.

Giles said he applied to chair the transportation committee when they were going to look at the project around a year ago and even went to Ottawa to lobby for the secondary highway.

The proposal of a secondary highway was brought before council in October 2017.