"We can't allow things that are inaccurate to stand." — The Word of Our Dan, February 19, 2008.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Strunnel redux

Give Burf Ploughman credit — he’s got sticktoitiveness:

Burford Ploughman is author of a business plan outlining the economic benefits of the tunnel that he believes could save the federal government, this province and Quebec in excess of $2 billion in subsidies over 20 years.


The idea of a tunnel was first floated back in 1979 within the Commission of Inquiry into Newfoundland Transportation.

That three-man panel, which included Mr. Ploughman, was tasked to investigate all aspects of transport in the province and presented a report of 160 recommendations, 130 of which were implemented.

“It is interesting, we were looking at it back then,” he said.


Former premier Danny Williams commissioned a pre-feasibility study in 2004 to investigate the credentials of such a project.

Back when the report was released, the concept was earmarked to cost $1.7 billion, however proponents say technological advancements over the past seven years would reduce that cost significantly.

The report also suggested combining the road tunnel with power transmission line with a saving of about $390 million.
For the record, the 2004 study — actually released in 2005, six years ago this week — recommended a bored rail tunnel, not a road one. But assuming, for the sake of argument, that there have been significant tunnel technology advancements in the past few years, any cost savings that might be realized by that technology would be entirely obviated by building a road tunnel – which has to be much wider and better-ventilated, and consequently much more expensive, than a rail tunnel.

Proponents of the tunnel dream would be better off focusing on the much-needed highway connections in northeastern Canada first, namely, finishing the entire Trans-Labrador Highway, Route 389, and Route 138 to modern standards, including finishing the missing piece of the 138 along the Lower North Shore.

See what that does to ferry traffic demand to and from Newfoundland, summer and winter, across the Strait of Belle Isle. (Hint: it’ll go up. Way up.)

The road links make financial and other sense with or without a fixed link under the Strait of Belle Isle. The fixed link, well, it may not ever make any kind of sense at all.

Without those roads, no one will ever know. That's what Mr. Ploughman, and the two provincial ministers involved, ought to be putting their attention, time, and money towards.



At 3:28 PM, March 04, 2011 , Blogger Mark said...

The savings cannot be realized without the completion of highway 138. The two governments are looking at the network, not just the fixed link.


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