March 26, 1998
(Works, Services and Transportation)

Infrastructure Development, Improved Service Focus of WST Budget

The year ahead will be a busy and productive one for the Department of Works, Services and Transportation, said Minister Lloyd Matthews today following the provincial budget. "The focus is on building our infrastructure, improving services and increased accountability."

The minister added, "Today's budget recognizes the importance of developing our infrastructure and transportation systems in light of the province's overall plan for economic development. In the year ahead we will continue to focus on building our transportation network and improving services to the users of those systems. We will continue to liaise closely with industry groups and with the public to ensure we invest our dollars wisely."

An additional $16 million in road improvement projects was announced today. "This is in addition to $92 million in road construction already announced under the Newfoundland Transportation Initiative and the Labrador Transportation Initiative," said Mr. Matthews. "With the inclusion of the provincial roads program, more than $108 million in improvement projects will take place on the province's roads this year, making 1998/99 one of the busiest construction seasons ever undertaken in the province." The minister added that tenders will be called as quickly as possible to ensure an early start date for construction.

In addition to road construction projects, some improvements were also announced with respect to marine services. "The Beaumont Hamel will replace the Katherine on the Bell Island run this year while the former Prince Edward, recently acquired from PEI, will operate on the Fogo Island/Change Islands run," said Mr. Matthews. "Approximately $1 million has been identified to upgrade the wharves in these communities to better accommodate the new ferry."

In addition to these changes to marine services, a new operator for the Labrador ferry service was named earlier this week. Burry's Marine Division Limited will operate the service for a two year period, with an option for a third year. "By contracting this service to a private operator, we will save approximately $4 million compared with the cost of running the service in previous years. At the same time, a number of improvements will be made to the service," said the minister. "There will be no rate increases, some decreases, consistent scheduling and a toll free reservation line," he said.

"The ferry service will be particularly important over the next few years while the Trans Labrador Highway is being constructed. Once the highway is complete, more Labradorians will begin to rely more on ground transportation for the movement of goods. We expect to have Phase I, Happy Valley-Goose Bay to Churchill Falls, substantially completed this year, as well as the environmental assessment for Phase II, Red Bay to Cartwright," said Mr. Matthews.

Contact: Jill Sooley, Communications, (709) 729-3015.



Labrador Transportation Initiatives

A) Marine Services

In April of 1997, the province assumed responsibility for marine services in Labrador from Marine Atlantic as part of the Labrador Transportation Initiative; a $350 million agreement with the Federal Government. Early in 1998, the Department of Works, Services and Transportation called tenders for a private operator to deliver the service. Burry's Marine Division Limited was named the successful bidder to operate the Labrador marine services for a two year period with an option to extend for a third year. By contracting out this service, government projects savings of approximately $4 million per year compared with previous years. Improvements in the service will also be made including:

  • No rate increases for the first time in five years.

  • The minimum shipment rate will be broken down into two categories, shipments 50 kg or less will cost $20.00 and shipments over 50 kg will remain at $35.00.

  • The jockey charge for vehicles using the Sir Robert Bond will be reduced by $10.00.

  • A toll free reservation number for residents travelling on The Northern Ranger.

  • Consistent shipping schedules. The Astron and The Northern Cruiser will run opposite one another so that a freighter will be leaving Lewisporte at least every 10 days.

  • A 50 per cent discount for Community Councils moving heavy equipment, exclusively for their own use.

  • The season begins with The Sir Robert Bond making the first run from Lewisporte on June 9, ice permitting.

B) Trans Labrador Highway

When the Trans Labrador Highway is complete, many Labradorians will rely more on ground transportation.

The Trans Labrador Highway is set to be completed in three phases:

Phase I - Happy Valley-Goose Bay to Churchill Falls

Phase II - Red Bay to Cartwright

Phase III - Happy Valley-Goose Bay to Cartwright Junction

Phase I will be substantially completed this year. As well, the environmental assessment for Phase II should also be complete. While the environmental assessment is ongoing, funds have been reallocated to continue work on Phase I. Construction on Phase II will begin in the next fiscal year. For 1998/99, construction of the Trans Labrador Highway will be comprised of four major projects:

  • Upgrading 21.6 km of Route 500, from Churchill Falls towards Rapid Brook.

  • Upgrading of 32 km of Route 500, from East Metchin River towards Churchill Falls.

  • Upgrading of 24.7 km of Route 500, from Wilson River to East Metchin River.

  • Upgrading of 52 km of Route 500, from Cache River to Wilson River.


1998 03 26 5:57 p.m.


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