January 19, 2004
(Executive Council)


Premier welcomes funding for pre-feasibility study

Premier Danny Williams is pleased to confirm that the federal government, through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), will partner with the province to fund a pre-feasibility study of a fixed link across the Strait of Belle Isle.

"Newfoundland and Labrador is the only province in Canada that does not have a continuous highway or railway linking it to North American markets. The two major geographic and resource regions within the province � Labrador and the Island of Newfoundland � are virtually inaccessible to each other, leaving exporters and importers constantly challenged by sea and air links. This seriously impedes economic growth potential and opportunities for the province," said the Premier. "We want to cooperate with the Government of Canada to effectively address the transportation challenges that hinder investment and competitiveness in Newfoundland and Labrador, and this study represents the first step in a process to accurately determine the feasibility of a fixed link."

The study will cost a total of $351,674, with a contribution of $281,339 from ACOA and $70,335 from the province. The funding will go to Memorial University of Newfoundland�s Public Policy Research Centre to conduct an impartial, independent examination of the economic and technical implications and viability of constructing a fixed link across the Strait of Belle Isle between Labrador and the Island of Newfoundland and to determine whether the concept should be the subject of further study and consideration.

Memorial�s Public Policy Research Centre will consider various fixed link designs and possible locations; estimate their technical feasibility; conduct a business case analysis considering capital and operating costs, revenues, projected annual cash flows and utilization levels; produce a sectoral analysis of the economic, social and environmental implications of the project; and review the literature on related fixed link projects around the world.

"I have always been a strong supporter and promoter of the concept of a fixed link, and I am pleased that we will finally see a study completed to determine the true feasability of this idea," added the Premier. "I believe that the economic benefits and spin-offs will be significant for the entire province, particularly the Northern Peninsula and Labrador. Spin-off benefits could include the creation of new jobs, growth in our tourism industry, and enhanced transportation infrastructure on both the island and Labrador, just to name a few. I look forward to receiving the results of the report sometime this spring."

Media contact: Elizabeth Matthews, Office of the Premier, (709) 729-3960 or (709) 690-5500

2004 01 19                                     10:50 a.m.

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