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Letter: N.L. tunnel plan off the rails from the start

This map shows the location of a proposed tunnel connecting Labrador to the island of Newfoundland, from Point Amour to a site near Flower’s Cove.
This map shows the location of a proposed tunnel connecting Labrador to the island of Newfoundland, from Point Amour to a site near Flower’s Cove. - Submitted

OMG! An Atlantic Rail Trunnel you say? Connecting our fair province with Africa, France, the U.K.? Breaking News at its best.

A feasibility study has been completed and government says (yes, it’s a go). Four hundred vehicles will be transported through an undersea rail trunnel across the Atlantic in much less time than it takes to go from St. John’s to Forteau. Unfortunately, passengers will not be allowed to leave their vehicles and will be given a tank of oxygen and a snorkel in case of a leak in the rail conveyance infrastructure.

Can you imagine, our very own trunnel? The vision is to have the trunnel work its way underneath the Atlantic floor, skim along by the oil infrastructure already placed there and then head straight for the middle of the Atlantic where a multi-prong approach will extend the remaining trunnels to Africa, France and the U.K. Newfoundlanders Labradorians will be guaranteed lifetime work and live happily ever after on the tolls collected at various points along the route. Finally, millions of ex-patriots will be able to come home to the land of milk and honey; well, at least, imported cod, and fresh ocean air, except for the smog that sometimes rolls in where caplin use to thrive. The estimated cost of the project is one trillion dollars and ninety-nine cents to be paid out by every Newfoundlander Labradorian for the next 1,000 years. Suddenly, taxpayers throughout the land wake up in a cold sweat, bound in tangled sheets while desperately protecting their life savings hidden from government fingers.

From time to time we all have a nightmare or two.

Unfortunately, jobs in this province do not come cheaply. Job creation ideas can cost millions or billions to implement at an incredible cost to those who live and work here.

Related story:

IN-DEPTH: Fixed link between Labrador and Newfoundland one step closer

Our creative Liberal government just announced that a recent feasibility study, at a cost of $266,000, clearly indicated that an undersea rail tunnel could be built over a 15-year period to carry numerous vehicles from Yankee Point on the Northern Peninsula across the Strait of Belle Isle to L’Anse Amour at a cost of $1.65 billion dollars. Will this, too, become another financial nightmare? Early indications suggest that it’s off to that kind of start.

A second feasibility study is scheduled to take place at a cost of $750,000, after which a more formal study projected at $23 million will follow. What will the rail tunnel have cost the taxpayers by the time a shovel is actually pushed into the rocky ground? $50 million? $100 million?

It seems we are all about to be inundated with Liberal party rants paid for from the public purse on the magnificence, significance and benefits of this project to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians here and throughout the world.

A boondoggle of key phrases are already being tossed out to a skeptical public by the premier and his entourage: … it’s a nation-building project; … it could change the landscape and unify our country; … a tunnel could be built with no cost to taxpayers; the fixed link ... will be a big social and big economic driver to the future of our province; the fixed link will be a key to diversification; … tremendous vision and insight; and that was just in the first half hour of the announcement.

Amongst all the smiles and political rhetoric of the announcement, one point was loud and clear. The premier clearly indicated that the taxpayers could not afford another tax burden. Good for him. He was off to a great start.

Then the whole thing went off the rails from there.

Perhaps this Liberal government is looking for its own Muskrat Falls? They are certainly welcome to it as long as the taxpayers of Newfoundland Labrador don’t have the burden of carrying the tax load for its development as we were subjected to by the deflated party which now sits in opposition.

It’s not an option, it’s not acceptable and it won’t be tolerated by voters.

Perhaps there should be an inquiry into this estimated $1.65-billion expenditure before it even begins. Why wait? Accountability is now.

P.J. Dwyer

Gander

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