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April 3, 1997
(Executive Council)

Government announces construction of Trans Labrador Highway

Premier Brian Tobin joined Fisheries and Oceans Minister Fred Mifflin, Ernie McLean, Minister Responsible for Labrador, and Julie Bettney, Minister of Works, Services and Transportation today, to announce that construction of the Trans Labrador Highway will commence in 1997.

On hand to celebrate the announcement were Labrador MHAs Perry Canning and Wally Andersen, along with Labrador MP Lawrence O'Brien.

The announcement follows the successful completion of negotiations between the province and Ottawa on the transfer of responsibility for the Labrador coastal boat service from the federal to the provincial government.

Under this agreement, the federal government transferred $340 million and two vessels, worth an additional $25 million, to the province.

"Just as in the Roads for Rails agreement, we intend to see that every dollar is used to build the Trans Labrador Highway, and to maintain necessary ferry services in Labrador," said Premier Tobin. "This compensation package makes it possible for the province to complete the Labrador West to Happy Valley-Goose Bay section, and a highway between Cartwright and Red Bay. However, it will not complete the link between Cartwright and Happy Valley-Goose Bay. The province will provide additional funds to complete that portion of the road," he added.

"This agreement is an excellent example of federal-provincial cooperation," said Mr. Mifflin. "The province of Newfoundland and Labrador is best positioned to match transportation services with local demand. This transfer is consistent with the National Marine Policy's objective of moving the operation of ferry services closer to the users."

In the construction of the Trans Labrador Highway, the province will spend $190 million on the first two phases, to be completed over the next six years. Phase 1 will see the completion of the road from Happy Valley-Goose Bay to Labrador West, and will include environmental assessment, planning and engineering for Phase 2. That work will begin today.

Phase 2 will include the construction of the link from Cartwright to Red Bay at a cost of $130 million. Construction will begin as soon as the design work and environmental process are completed, as early as 1998. Environmental assessment, planning and engineering for the final phase will begin during this period.

"The $20 million we will spend on road construction in Labrador this summer will make huge improvements to the existing road from Happy Valley-Goose Bay to Labrador West," said Julie Bettney. "We intend to commit this amount and more in the coming years which will bring new economic opportunities to the south coast of Labrador."

The Minister Responsible for Labrador, Ernie McLean, said: "The people of Labrador clearly expressed a need for an all-weather Trans Labrador Highway. This government made it our number one priority transportation project. We committed to the people of Labrador that we would take action, and today we are delighted to move forward with this major initiative."

Under the agreement between the province and Canada, the provincial government assumed control of the marine coastal service to Labrador, effective April 1, 1997. There will be no changes to services this year. The government will be consulting with the stakeholders in the coming months before any changes are made.

Contact: Cathy Dornan, Director of Communications, Premier's Office, (709) 729-3564, or Barbara Harris, Communications, Department of Works, Services and Transportation, (709) 729-3678.

1997 04 03 9:45 a.m.

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