James Bay Road
The James Bay Road (French: Route de la Baie James), officially the Route Billy-Diamond Highway, is a remote wilderness highway winding its way through the Canadian Shield in northwestern Quebec and reaches into the James Bay region. It starts in Matagami as an extension of Route 109 and ends at Radisson. The road is fully paved, well maintained, and plowed during the winter. It was originally constructed to carry loads of 300 tons, and has mostly gentle curves and hills with wide shoulders. The road is maintained by the Eeyou Istchee James Bay Regional Government (formerly by the municipality of Baie-James). Connecting to other routes such as the Trans-Taiga Road and the Route du Nord, the highway draws tourists interested in reaching the remote wilderness surrounding James Bay, part of Hudson Bay.
On November 10, 2020, the James Bay Road was renamed in honour of Billy Diamond, former Grand Chief of the Grand Council of the Crees and chief Cree negotiator of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement.
There is currently a proposal supported by the region's Cree communities to build a gravel extension some 250 kilometres (160 mi) further north to the twin communities on the Great Whale River - the Cree village of Whapmagoostui and the northern (primarily Inuit) village of Kuujjuarapik, in the Nunavik region.
The James Bay Road was conceived as an access road for the hydroelectric projects developed in the James Bay region in the 1970s and onwards. Construction began in 1971 and was completed in October, 1974. Gravel branch routes have since been built from the highway, including four roads west to Cree villages on or near James Bay (the one to Chisasibi is paved for most of the way). The Trans-Taiga Road (French: Route Transtaïga) was built and reached Caniapiscau in 1979. The 406 kilometres (252 mi) long Route du Nord (North Road), which also is not a numbered route, connects from km 275 (measured from Matagami) southeast to near Chibougamau, Quebec.
There are no services and development along the full length of the James Bay Road, except for a full-service station at 381 kilometres (237 mi) from Matagami. The station at Km 381 is operational 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, and is complete with cafeteria and rudimentary lodging.
In view of the remote nature of this road, there is a registration office along the side of the road for travellers to register just a few kilometers north from Matagami. It is staffed 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. This office also serves as a tourist office for all communities along or off the James Bay Road.
As further safety provisions, there are six roadside emergency telephones which connect with staff in the registration office.
|0||0||Matagami, km 0 marker for James Bay Road|
|6||3.7||Checkpoint for registration office|
|232||144||Bridge crossing the Broadback River|
|237||147||Junction with road to Waskaganish, 102 km (63 mi) west|
|257||160||Bridge crossing the Rupert River|
|275||171||Junction with the North Road, highway through Nemaska (117 km (73 mi) east) to Chibougamau (440 km (270 mi) east)|
|351||218||Junction with road to Eastmain, 103 km (64 mi) west|
|381||236||Relais 381, 24-hr service station|
|395||245||Bridge crossing the Eastmain River|
|411||255||Bridge crossing the Opinaca River|
|518||322||Junction with road to Wemindji, 96 km (60 mi) west|
|544||338||Junction with Trans-Taiga Road, 582 km (362 mi) east to Brisay, and an additional rough 84 km (52 mi) suitable only for four-wheel drive vehicles, no services; the road ends approximately 160 km (99 mi) west from Labrador, near Schefferville, Quebec|
|589||366||La Grande Rivière Airport, serving Radisson, Quebec|
|600||373||Junction with road to Chisasibi, 90 km (56 mi) west|
|617||383||Junction with access road to Radisson, 5 km (3.1 mi)|
|620||385||End of road - Hydro-Québec controlled-access roads from here|
- "Cree Nation Celebrates Renaming of the James Bay Highway" (Press release). Nemaska: Grand Council of the Crees. November 10, 2020. Retrieved November 11, 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
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