Danny Dumaresque’s Liberal leadership campaign is going underground.
Dumaresque, a former Liberal MHA and current leadership hopeful, announced Friday morning that a fixed link between Newfoundland and Labrador — specifically, a tunnel under the strait of Belle Isle — would be a central plank of his leadership platform.
Danny Dumaresque says a tunnel between Newfoundland and Labrador would be a major economic benefit for the province, and he’s making it a central plank in his campaign for the provincial Liberal leadership.
— Photo by Daniel MacEachern/The Telegram
“I firmly believe this project would transform this province like no other has in our history,” he said at a news conference at the Holiday Inn on Friday morning.
Dumaresque said a tunnel would create jobs, boost tourism, save travellers hundreds by avoiding Marine Atlantic crossings, and provide for better food security by eliminating delays for food shipments when ferries are unable to run.
Dumaresque is heading to Norway later this month to learn from a country with more than a thousand tunnels, including 32 undersea tunnels. Dumaresque pointed to a project currently underway consisting of 20 kilometres of tunnel under a thousand feet of sea that he said could provide insight on costs — he’s unsure what a tunnel under the strait of Belle Isle would cost — and maintenance.
“This tunnel is practically a mirror image of what we need to do to connect this island to Labrador,” said Dumaresque, who added a tunnel could also house the subsea cable to be built between Forteau Point and Shoal Cove to transmit power generated by the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project.
But Nalcor — which studied the possibility of building a tunnel to house the cable and rejected it — has said construction costs in Newfoundland and Labrador would be much higher than in Norway due to numerous faults or cracks and the porous sedimentary rock under the strait, and that any cost benefit of housing the cable in a tunnel would be wiped out due to the length of time that would be required to build the tunnel first.
In 2004, a feasibility study commissioned by the provincial government concluded that a tunnel with a single railway track would be the only feasible option for a fixed link — due to harsh weather, the depth and shape of the sea floor and the geology of the soil — but that low traffic levels would not justify the cost of construction.