Canadian Consulting Engineer

Tunnel is best option for Newfoundland-Labrador fixed link

April 1, 2005
By Canadian Consulting Engineer

A study looking into the feasibility of building a fixed link to connect Newfoundland to mainland Canada for the fi...

A study looking into the feasibility of building a fixed link to connect Newfoundland to mainland Canada for the first time has found that it would be costly but is technically possible.
Engineering companies Hatch Mott MacDonald in association with SGE Acres and IBI Group completed the study on behalf of the Leslie Harris Centre of Regional Policy and Development.
The study was ordered by the government as an independent examination of the economic and technical implications of a fixed transportation link across the Strait of Belle Isle between Newfoundand and Labrador. The engineering team looked at three concepts: a bridge, a causeway/bridge and a tunnel. The link would connect across the Strait at the shortest point between Pointe Amour and Yankee Point.
The engineers concluded that of all the options, a tunnel bored using tunnel boring machines, with an electric train shuttle to transport vehicles, is the most economical and technically feasible solution.
The estimated construction cost of the link would be $1.2 billion in 2004 dollars, with a total development cost of $1.8 billion including escalation and interest. It would take about 11 years to complete.
In comparison, the engineers estimated that a causeway and bridge would be the most expensive option to construct at $10 billion, and a bridge alone would cost $4.8 billion. They also looked at the possibilities of an immersed tube tunnel and a drill and blast tunnel.
In releasing the report on February 28, provincial Premier Danny Williams suggested that such a project would require a major infusion of capital from Ottawa and was not an immediate priority of government. However, he added “the possibility remains that a fixed link could be constructed during the completion of projects such as the Lower Churchill hydro development or Highway 138 in Quebec.”
He also said that the study was invaluable in providing critical information for setting future transportation priorities.
To see the full report, see


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