Trans-Labrador Highway

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Start of Phase III of Trans-Labrador Highway, a 250 kilometres (160 mi) gravel road between Cartwright Junction and Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

The Trans-Labrador Highway (TLH) is a highway located in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. It is the primary public road in Labrador. Its total length is 774.66 mi (1,246.69 km). Due to the harsh winters and sparse population in most of Labrador, long parts of the road are a well-packed asphalt/gravel surface that is re-graded annually (usually in mid to late May). There are plans to complete the paving of the highway within the next 10 years.[1][2] In addition to weather related hazards drivers should be sure to plan out their petrol stops and be ever vigilant for moose along most stretches of the roadway.

The original western/central portion of the TLH is designated as Route 500 and measures 543 km (337 mi) divided as follows:

Heading southeast is Route 510, the north portion of the TLH that has been designated Labrador Coastal Drive and measures 606 km (377 mi) divided as follows:

The TLH runs through dense wilderness for most of its length with no roadside services between communities. The TLH/Labrador Coastal Drive connects with Quebec Route 389, which runs 567 km (352 mi) through wilderness north from Baie-Comeau to the Quebec - Labrador boundary.

Construction and development[edit]

Trans-Labrador highway in Division No. 10, Subdivision D, NL

Phase I, Upgrading Labrador West to Happy Valley-Goose Bay[edit]

The original TLH from Labrador West (Labrador City/Wabush) to Happy Valley-Goose Bay was completed in 1992. Some sections were poorly built or in need of upgrades due to increased traffic use, particularly the section between Churchill Falls and Happy Valley-Goose Bay. In the summer of 1999, $60 million was allocated to upgrade the highway as part of the "Labrador Transportation Initiative".

The Phase I section of the TLH began undergoing paving operations in 2009; by October 2011, a stretch of approximately 140 km (87 mi) leading east from Labrador West had been paved, as well approximately 100 km (62 mi) heading west from Goose Bay towards Churchill Falls. The entire Phase I section of the TLH was completed in 2014.[3]

Route 510[edit]

In 1997 the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador committed to building an extension of the TLH, connecting Happy Valley-Goose Bay with an existing isolated road network serving coastal communities on the Strait of Belle Isle. The impetus for this project was the federal government's desire to cut costs and remove itself from subsidizing coastal ferry service to Labrador outports which was being provided by the federal Crown corporation Marine Atlantic.

These federal cuts were completed in 1997, under the moniker Labrador Transportation Initiative, when an agreement was signed which saw the federal government transfer ownership and operation of two ferry vessels, along with C$340 million for extending Labrador's road network. A key component to this plan was $150 million to upgrade coastal Labrador marine services, including a newer high-capacity ferry for the St. Barbe-Blanc Sablon service across the Strait of Belle Isle.

Route 510, north of Port Hope Simpson

Phase II, Red Bay to Cartwright[edit]

Phase II of new construction, costing $130 million, began in 1999 and saw Route 510 extended 323 km (201 mi) over four years from its terminus in Red Bay northeast to the port of Cartwright. When this southern portion of the TLH was completed in 2002, the Labrador coastal ferry services were transferred from Lewisporte on Newfoundland to Cartwright. The section from Red Bay to Charlottetown is being paved, to be completed in 2017.

The southern TLH runs 409 km (254 mi), divided as follows:

The Phase II section of the southern portion of the TLH between Red Bay and Mary's Harbour experiences extreme winter driving conditions: pictures of heavy snow-removal equipment battling snow drifts dozens of feet deep have become famous around the world. The poor winter driving conditions often result in this section of the TLH being impassable for weeks; the route in use required rock cuts that tend to fill with snow.[citation needed]

Phase III, Cartwright Junction to Happy Valley-Goose Bay[edit]

Phase III is a 250 km (160 mi) section of Route 510 built for $130 million south of Lake Melville/Hamilton Inlet to connect Cartwright Junction (94 km (58 mi) south west of Cartwright) with Happy Valley-Goose Bay, completed sufficiently to open to traffic on 16 December 2009. During 2010, two permanent bridges, road surface work, signage, and guardrails were completed at a cost of $15 million.

Phase II north from Cartwright Junction is Route 516, and a ferry service connects Cartwright with Happy Valley-Goose Bay, which was intended to be removed after the highway is completed, achieved in mid-December 2009.

Transportation Minister Tom Hedderson had made the announcement of the impending completion of the highway connection between Cartwright and Happy Valley-Goose Bay on Tuesday, December 8, 2009 in the legislature.

"We indicated that we'd do everything possible to get it done in this time period of 2009," Hedderson said, "and ... we are very, very close in a sense that the crew has indeed connected up both sides." Hedderson said some final work has to be done on that portion of the highway, but he said it would open to the public soon.

80 km (50 mi) of this route have been paved in 2015.[4]

Route 516 and supplementary routes[edit]

Phase II involved completion of highway north to Cartwright from Red Bay, and was opened in 2002. Although the entire route was initially designated as Route 510, upon completion of Phase III, the northern 94 km (58 mi) from Cartwright Junction was designated as Route 516.

Phase II also included other branch routes:

  • Route 513 to St. Lewis
  • Route 514 to Charlottetown and Pinsent Arm

Kilometre markers[edit]

Route 500 between Labrador City and Churchill Falls
Bridge of route 500 over Churchill River

Route 500

Kilometre Description Services
0 Border between Quebec at Newfoundland and Labrador NA
0 Junction with route 389 towards Baie-Comeau All services (567 km)
17 à 19 Labrador City All services
21 Junction with route 503 towards Wabush All services (3 km)
58 Spring (south side of the road) Drinking water (at your own risks)
61 Grande Hermine Campground Campground
140 Highway maintenance centre NA
239 Bowdoin Canyon Trail (Churchill Falls) Parking
239 Rest stop Garbage bin
261 Junction with John Cabot street towards Churchill Falls All services (1 km)
263 Junction with rue John Cabot street towards Churchill Falls All services (1 km)
403 Highway maintenance centre NA
424 Workers camp NA
465 Rest stop Garbage bin
506 Rest stop Garbage bin and picnic table
538 Junction with route 510 towards Port Hope Simpson All services (390 km)
543 Junction with route 520 towards Happy Valley-Goose Bay All services

State of the road

Kilometre Description Description*
0 to 18 Paved Good
18 to 262 Paved Fair**
262 to 543 Paved Good

*As of July 2016

**The bridge over Churchill River is single lane

Route 510

Route 510 between L'Anse-au-Loup and Pinware
Route 510 between Pinware and Red Bay
Route 510 between Port Hope Simpson and Happy Valley-Goose Bay
Kilometre Description Services
0 Border of Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador NA
0 Junction with route 138 toward Blanc-Sablon All services (2 km)
4 L'Anse-au-Clair All services
14 Forteau All services
28 L'Anse-au-Loup All services
42 West St. Modeste Restaurant and lodging
47 Pinware Gas and groceries
77 Red Bay All services
109 Rest stop Garbage bin
118 Road maintenance centre NA
155 Lodge Bay Gas and groceries
155 Rest stop Garbage bin and picnic table
165 Junction with Lodge Bay road towards Mary's Harbour Gas, groceries and restaurant (2 km)
195 Junction with route 513 towards St. Lewis Gas, groceries and restaurant (17 km)
216 Port Hope Simpson All services
220 Junction with route 514 towards Charlottetown Gas, groceries and restaurant (30 km)
317 Road maintenance centre NA
319 Junction with route 516 towards Cartwright All services (94 km)
321 Rest stop Garbage bin and picnic table
447 Workers camp NA
465 Road maintenance centre NA
465 Rest stop Garbage bin
471 Workers camp NA
543 Rest stop NA
596 Muskrat Falls camp NA
603 Muskrat Falls camp NA
606 Junction with route 500 towards Happy Valley-Goose Bay All services (5 km)
606 Rest stop Garbage bin and picnic table

State of the road

Kilometre Description* Description*
0 to 77 Paved Variable (Very good to bad)
77 to 216 Gravel Fair
216 to 220 Gravel Good
220 to 319 Gravel Bad
319 to 445 Gravel Good
490 to 526 Gravel Fair
526 to 606 Paved Very good

*As of July 2016

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Department of Transportation and Works, Newfoundland and Labrador (August 18, 2016). "Highway Construction and Maintenance Slow Downs Report". Department of Transportation and Works. Department of Transportation and Works. Retrieved August 23, 2016. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Tenders Called for More Paving on Phase I of Trans Labrador Highway". Transportation and Works. Retrieved 26 April 2011. 
  4. ^ "Trans-Labrador Highway". CBC. 

External links[edit]

Route map: Google

KML is from Wikidata

Coordinates: 53°26′11″N 63°24′47″W / 53.43639°N 63.41306°W / 53.43639; -63.41306