Quebec revives N.L. tunnel vision
Quebec Transport Minister Norman MacMillan recently approved a study to weigh the social and economic impacts of a building an underground link across the Strait of Belle Isle.
The provinces have already discussed the possibility of a tunnel that would extend about 15 kilometres between Blanc-Sablon and St. Barbe.
In 2005, a consultant's study reported a link was feasible, but would cost about $1.7 billion.
Mayors in the region support the idea, with some qualifications.
For the approximately 1,500 who live in Blanc-Sablon, Que., "this is the only chance that we got left to survive on the North Shore," said Mayor Anthony Dumas, a member of Neighbours Without Borders, a tunnel lobby group.
But Highway 138 would have to be extended from Blanc-Sablon to Natashquan by some 300 kilometres for the tunnel to make economic sense, he said.
Blanc-Sablon relies heavily on exports from Newfoundland.
The existing ferry trip takes less than two hours, however it can take longer during the winter.
The economic benefits are clear for Burford Ploughman, a retired public servant who penned a business plan for the tunnel.
"We've identified over $2 billion in savings in over 20 years once the road and the tunnel is completed," because of reduced ferry subsidies, Ploughman said.
Quebec's Transport Ministry said it's too soon in the study process to comment.
The tunnel would run about 15 kilometres between Blanc-Sablon and Newfoundland.