05/05/2012 12:48 EDT | Updated 07/04/2012 05:12 EDT

Thousands demand twinning of deadly Alberta highway

Thousands of people gathered in Fort McMurray Saturday, saying the provincial government can no longer ignore the dangers of Highway 63.

“This protest rally really gave people a way to say let's do something about this. Let's make sure people stop dying,” said Nicole Auser, one of the rally organizers.

Protesters are demanding the province speed up the process of twinning the busy highway, which connects Edmonton with Fort McMurray and the oilsands.

The rally comes a week after a head-on collision on the highway killed seven people, including two children. Forty-six people have died on the highway in the past five years.

Protestors came with handmade signs reading “I drive 63, Pray for me” and “How many more? How much longer?”

Many of them took to the stage, telling the crowd their own stories of loved ones who had been killed on the busy highway.

In 2006, the provincial government announced a plan to twin a 240-kilometre stretch of Highway 63, which is often crowded with passenger traffic and over-sized equipment destined for the oilsands.

To date, 33 kilometres have been done, with the province estimating to complete 50 per cent of the job in the next three years.

But protesters say that work isn’t being done quickly enough. Many also want to see more enforcement along the stretch of road, where locals say many drivers ignore the speed limit and pass at unsafe times.

Premier Alison Redford has said Alberta’s transportation minister will examine the project to see if it can be fast tracked.