Months ago, the government in Newfoundland & Labrador spent about $750K (CAD) on a feasibility study for a fixed-link across the Strait of Bell Isle. The public reaction was a mix of scorn and bewilderment, as circumstances here lately are not such that there’s much enthusiasm for grandiose infrastructure schemes.
I was reminded of all this this week after seeing some similar news coming out of the Mediterranean. In Italy, the government seems (again) interested in building a bridge across the strait of Messina, linking the peninsula to Sicily. Critics of the proposed €9b project cite high winds, volume of shipping, Mafia corruption, and earthquakes. Proponents have recourse to the standard megaproject arguments: construction jobs, ‘economic development’, etc. The strait of Messina has a maximum width of 16KM, a kilometre less than the minimum width of the strait of Bell Isle.
Meanwhile, there’s talk in Malta of building a tunnel connecting it to Gozo, that country’s second most populous island (pop. 31k). It’s not off to an auspicious start, with the tender for an initial geological study being criticised as flawed and bound to cause problems down the line. Admittedly, I can’t assess whether the study’s premise is faulty or if this is just a newspaper speaking to a malcontent geologist. That being said, I know a lot of people in NL wish we’d paid more mind to our malcontents and naysayers.
Looking for Gozitan opinions on a link to Malta, I found an article from 2011 stressing the island’s isolation and was struck by two terms. One is ‘double insularity’, the island equivalent of ‘doubly landlocked’: an island whose connection to the mainland is via another island. The term seems peculiar to Malta & Gozo, but the condition described is extremely familiar. The second term is ‘mainland Malta’, because it evokes an idea I want to look at again in this blog: that one’s island can be another’s mainland.
This brings me back to strait of Bell Isle, and an idle question I have whenever putative tunnel comes up in the news. Is the goal to connect Newfoundland to mainland Canada, or to connect Labrador to ‘mainland NL’?