The governments of Canada and the provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador will jointly fund a $275,000 prefeasibility study for a 10-mile-plus fixed highway and/or rail link across the Strait of Belle Isle, which separates the island of Newfoundland from the Labrador mainland. A call for proposals will be issued on Jan. 29, says David Vardy, director of the Public Policy Research Centre at Memorial University in St. Johns, which will oversee the study. The winning study team will be selected by early spring and will complete the prefeasibility study this summer. The study will consider various fixed-link designs and possible locations, estimate their technical feasibility and conduct a business case analysis for the project. Vardy says that if the teams work suggests that a full feasibility study is warranted, that more comprehensive analysis would take another year or so to complete and the design and construction of the link might take six to eight years more. He declines to speculate on what type of link might be favored, but says the team is likely to consider a rail-tunnel option, as well as some combination of a causeway and bridge. Vardy compares the scope of the Newfoundland/Labrador construction project to the English Channel Tunnel linking London and Paris and the Confederation Bridge between New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, an eight-mile span that also crosses dangerous ice-filled waters.