Report on feasibility of N.L. megaproject eagerly awaited

Posted on March 11, 2024 | By Ashley Fitzpatrick | 0 Comments

N.L. heavy civil association members await word on road to Northern Labrador

No decisions have been made yet on advancing, or not, a new highway in Labrador. (Photo illustration: iStock: Jens_Lambert_Photography and Atlantic Business Magazine)

A road to connect the Trans-Labrador Highway (TLH) to communities in northern Labrador would be transformational for more than just residents, visitors and local organizations; it would also amount to a construction megaproject, one with commercial opportunities for companies throughout the region.

Though not so much as a basic sketch has been released to the public just yet, it’s expected that such a road would connect to the area around Happy Valley-Goose Bay and wind its way north – perhaps as far as Nain – with offshoots linking to coastal towns.

“From an industry perspective this would certainly be a large project which would result in significant employment opportunities. It would improve valuable business and trade routes for northern Labrador by improving the movement of goods and services along with providing an enhanced transportation ability for residents and visitors,” said Heavy Civil Association of Newfoundland and Labrador executive director Jim Organ, in a statement to Atlantic Business Magazine.

“At this point our industry is looking forward to seeing the final report (on an early look at feasibility) and determining what it might mean in terms of construction opportunities,” he said.

The report Organ refers to is from a study paid for by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, looking at the potential for the project. “(It) has been drafted but not finalized,” a spokesperson with the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure recently shared.

The government issued a press release when the contract for a pre-feasibility study was awarded early in 2023, to Allnorth Consultants Limited. The contract was valued at $269,250. The report from the study was due late last year.

A draft is in the province’s hands and now “under review.”


Map of Labrador labeling communities of Happy Valley-Goose Bay, North West River, Hopedale, Postville, Rigolet, Makkovik, Nain (Source: Tourism Nunatsiavut)


“Further consultations with Indigenous governments and organizations will be undertaken on the study as it stands. Once concluded, the report’s findings will be made available to the stakeholders to help facilitate discussions on the next steps,” Atlantic Business Magazine was told.

There was no direct commitment to the report being publicly released, or any sense of when it might be released, if ever.

The scope of the contract work originally awarded to AllNorth did expand over the past year, with broader in-person consultations, Atlantic Business Magazine was told. It’s not clear what was included in the expansion. At the time of the contract award, the province stated the study would be informed by consultations with the Nunatsiavut Government and five Inuit community governments of Nain, Hopedale, Postville, Makkovik and Rigolet; Innu Nation leadership, Mushuau Innu First Nation and Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation; the NunatuKavut Community Council; Town of North West River and Town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

A spokesman for the Nunatsiavut Government said that government had yet to see the draft report. However, the consultations go without saying given the road would run through Nunatsiavut (self-governed territory).

The budget for the pre-feasibility evaluation sits at $400,000. That is being 50-50 cost-shared between the provincial and federal governments.

A past project similarly grand in scale, the TLH was built with nearly $1 billion in public spending between 1997 and 2023. That roughly 1,150-kilometre road, from the Strait of Belle Isle to Western Labrador, beginning with connections between communities in Southern Labrador, took about four decades to complete.

The proposed road to the North coast isn’t expected to be quite as long but, as the CBC reported in 2018, at least one proposed route would demand 860 kilometres of road construction. At the time, the cost was estimated at about $900 million (topping $1 billion today based on inflation alone).

Part of the more recent study work was to consider possible routes the road might take, meaning whatever was evaluated in the study could differ in length from the earlier estimate. It means awaiting the report to see what the governments might be looking at today.

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