Upgrades coming to Highway 686

The Government of Alberta has signed an agreement with Loon River First Nation, Peerless Trout First Nation, and Bigstone Cree Nation to begin work to extend Highway 686 to Fort McMurray.

The proposed project will involve extending Highway 686 by 218 kilometres creating an east-west connection between Fort McMurray and Peerless Lake.

The current drive between the two locations is 667 kilometres, spanning almost seven hours.

The proposed extension calls for a two-lane gravel highway with construction expected to take at least five years.

“Connecting Highway 686 to Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo will forever transform our region’s economy,” says Kevin Weidlich, president and CEO of Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo Economic Development & Tourism.

“This new highway will lower our supply chain costs and open up new business opportunities for local Indigenous and non-Indigenous businesses.”

The extension would connect communities in northern Alberta and reduce travel times between essential services.

Members of the three First Nations groups and representatives from the Government of Alberta will establish a planning committee.

The planning committee will review the proposed location, consider environmental impacts, and identify other opportunities along the corridor.

It is unclear when construction will officially begin but consultation and environmental assessments will be done beforehand.

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