About Alberta’s Highway 63
Highway 63 is a 443 kilometre stretch of highway that connects Alberta’s oil sands region with major trade routes to the south. It is also the only all-weather highway out of Fort McMurray making it a critical thoroughfare for the community and creating a significant volume of traffic.
Although in the process of being twinned, Highway 63 is mostly a two-lane undivided highway notorious for heavy traffic volume and vehicle collisions. Servicing the growing Athabasca oil sands area and the burgeoning municipality of Fort McMurray, traffic delays are caused by commuter volume as well as heavy equipment transports which can take up both lanes of the highway and are required to travel at significantly reduced speeds.
Beginning outside of Radway it passes through the communities of Boyle and Fort McMurray and ends near Fort McKay. Servicing some of the northern-most communities in Alberta, Highway 63 is located in the Boreal Forest Region and is known for having many driving hazards. Weather conditions on Highway 63 can be extreme in the winter with snow blowing across the open road and temperatures that are frequently below the freezing mark. The region is also home to an abundance of wildlife and in the warmer months they can pose significant danger to drivers. In fact, approximately 40% of all accidents on Highway 63 involve wildlife.
Accidents on Highway 63 have a reputation for being frequent, deadly and they often make headlines across Alberta. Between 2006 and 2010 alone, there were 3339 accidents on Highway 63 and Highway 881 resulting in 99 fatalities. However, preparing for the road conditions and practicing safe driving habits can eliminate much of the potential for accidents on Highway 63. The entire distance of Highway 63 is on schedule to be twinned by 2016, significantly increasing safety and helping accommodate the heavy traffic volume it services year-round.