House of Commons report recommends Newfoundland-Labrador fixed link

A report presented to the House of Commons about improving transportation in eastern Canada outlines several possible solutions for closing the loop in the region including a fixed link between Newfoundland and Labrador.

Put together by the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, the report is the regional portion of a look at transportation needs across the country, MP Churence Rogers said.

One of the identified needs is a much-discussed 16-kilometre tunnel running under the Strait of Belle Isle and connecting Newfoundland's Northern Peninsula with the Labrador coast. That tunnel would close the transportation loop in Atlantic Canada and Quebec, Rogers said, and make the movement of people and goods both within and to and from the region more efficient.

"We see this as a way of having a transportation system which is reliable and one which is not impacted by major storms," he said.

There were frequent cancellations of ferry crossings in the Strait of Belle Isle this past winter and spring.

Hatch

The committee's discussions with witnesses from Atlantic Canada led to the recommendation to co-ordinate efforts between Newfoundland and Labrador and Quebec to complete Highway 138, then connect that to the Trans-Labrador Highway, then build a tunnel underneath the straight to Newfoundland, Rogers said.

One of those witnesses, former MHA Danny Dumaresque, pointed to Norway as the inspiration for his suggestions, Rogers said and for information on a potential budget for a tunnel under the strait.

"Based on the Norweigian experience and the kind of work they do building tunnels, his numbers came in somewhere around $800 million," Rogers said.

The report also discussed lowering rates for Marine Atlantic's ferry service, after hearing from several witnesses who said the current fares are too high for a constitutionally mandated service.

"We're encouraging the federal government to take a serious look at these rates," Rogers said.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador