Trans-Labrador Highway

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 by 2021.[1]

Trans-Labrador Highway
Route 500
Route 510
Route information
Length1,149 km (714 mi)
Route 500
Length543 km (337 mi)
South endQuebec border near Labrador City
continues as Route 389
Route 503 in Wabush
Route 510 near Happy Valley-Goose Bay
North end Route 520 in Happy Valley-Goose Bay
Route 510
Length606 km (377 mi)
South endQuebec border near Blanc-Sablon, QC
continues as Route 138
Route 516 to Cartwright

Route 514 to Charlottetown

Route 513 to St. Lewis
North end Route 500 near Happy Valley-Goose Bay
Highway system
Highways in Newfoundland and Labrador
Route 490Route 503

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

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

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.[4]

Route 510

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.

Phase II, Red Bay to Cartwright

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.

Phase III, Cartwright Junction to Happy Valley-Goose Bay

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.[5]

Route 516 and supplementary routes

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

Route 500

00.0 Route 389 south Fermont, Baie-ComeauServices 3 km (2 mi) to the south in Fermont.
Quebec border
Labrador City17–
All services
Wabush2113 Route 503 south Wabush Airport
5836springDrinking water (at your own risk)
6138Grande Hermine CampgroundCampground
14087Highway maintenance centreN/A
239149Crosses the Churchill River
Rest stop – Bowdoin Canyon Trail (Churchill Falls)Parking, garbage bin
Churchill Falls261–
 Churchill Falls AirportAll services
403250Highway maintenance centreN/A
424263Workers campN/A
465289Rest stopGarbage bin
506314Rest stopGarbage bin and picnic table
538334 Route 510 south Port Hope SimpsonTrans-Labrador Highway follows Route 510
Happy Valley-Goose Bay543337 Route 520 CFB Goose Bay, North West River
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi
  •       Route transition

Route 510

−4−2.5 Route 138 west Old Fort, Lourdes-de-Blanc-Sablon Airport
Avenue Jacques Cartier – Blanc-Sablon ferry terminal
Ferry connection to St. Barbe, NL and Route 430
00.0Quebec border
L'Anse-au-Clair42.5All services
Forteau148.7All services
L'Anse-au-Loup2817All services
West St. Modeste4226Restaurant and lodging
Pinware4729Gas and groceries
Red Bay7748All services
10968Rest stopGarbage bin
11873Highway maintenance centreN/A
Lodge Bay15596Gas and groceries; includes rest stop (2 km)
195121 Route 513 east St. LewisGas, groceries and restaurant (17 km)
Port Hope Simpson216134  Port Hope Simpson AirportAll services
220140 Route 514 north Charlottetown, LabradorGas, groceries and restaurant (30 km)
317197Highway maintenance centreN/A
319198 Route 516 north CartwrightAll services (94 km)
321199Garbage bin and picnic table
447278Workers campN/A
465289Highway maintenance centreN/A
471293Workers campN/A
543337Rest stopN/A
596370Muskrat Falls campN/A
606377Crosses the Churchill River
Happy Valley-Goose Bay Route 500 Labrador City, Churchill Falls, Happy Valley-Goose BayRest stop; all services 5 km to the east;
Trans-Labrador Highway follows Route 500 south
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi
  •       Closed/former

State of the road

Route 500
KilometreDescriptionDescription[lower-alpha 1]
0 to 18Paved Good
18 to 262PavedFair[lower-alpha 2]
262 to 543PavedGood
Route 510
KilometreDescription*Description[lower-alpha 1]
0 to 77Paved Variable (Very good to bad)
77 to 216PavedGood
216 to 220Paved Good
220 to 319Paved Good
319 to 445Gravel Good
490 to 526Gravel Fair
526 to 606PavedVery good
  1. As of July 2016
  2. The bridge over Churchill River is single lane

See also


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