A plan to complete the highway across a southern section of southern Quebec and Labrador is gaining steam.
In late January, members of the combined councils of Labrador were invited to a meeting in Sept-Iles, Quebec to discuss the future of Route 138.
The highway starts on the border with New York and now stops at Kegashka, the temporary eastern terminal located east of Sept-Iles. The road also runs from Blanc Salon, near the border with southern Labrador, and to Vieux-fort.
Wabush Mayor Ron Barron and Happy Valley-Goose Bay Mayor Wally Anderson represented the combined councils as some members were unable to attend because of weather.
Federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Jean Francois-Phillipe Champagne attended the meeting, as did representatives from Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec and First Nations groups.
The idea of closing the gap and completing the highway across the southern section of Quebec to Labrador was supported by those in attendance.
"The federal minister was impressed with the unity between the indigenous groups and the municipal representatives that attended," Barron said.
Completion of the highway would greatly benefit communities along that shore, he said, especially easing transporting goods into the area. He also sees opportunities for southern Labrador in terms of shipping goods from the island and onto communities along the coast. There's also the potential of boosting tourism in the area.
Also discussed were plans for route 389, which runs from Baie Comeau to Fermont and then connects with the Trans-Labrador Highway and the southern Labrador highway (routes 389, 500 and 510). That would permit travellers to do a loop from Route 138 to Blanc Sablon and back through Labrador to Labrador West and back to the Quebec North Shore.
Barron says work and paving on Route 389 has also been slated for the upcoming construction season.
“The whole idea makes a lot of social and economic sense," says Barron, who added that a clear message was sent to Ottawa from this meeting. Now, he added, plans for funding and construction will be on the agenda.