Norway has unveiled plans of building the world’s first sea tunnel that will allow ships to bypass the dangerous waters of its western coast. A 36-metre-wide, mile-long tunnel is going to be carved through the rocky Stad Peninsula, which will allow ships to avoid the Stadhavet Sea that frequently becomes very stormy. Even the Vikings were afraid of crossing this peninsula.
The project is going to cost 2.7 billion kroner or $315 million, and it is expected to be completed by 2023. The construction work will start in early 2019. Engineers will blast an estimated eight million tons of rock to build this tunnel.
Passenger Ships Will Get Priority
Once completed, both freight and passenger ships that weigh up to 16,000 tons will be able to pass through the tunnel. It will be free of charge for the vessels that measure less than less than 70 meters. Bigger vessels will have to be led. Passenger traffic will be given priority but leisure boats and other vessels can also use the tunnel. Five ships are expected to pass through this tunnel each hour.
What happens if two boats come face to face within the tunnel? Terje Andreassen, who is the project manager, says this cannot happen because all vessels will get slot times from a traffic center, much like what happens in an airport. This is necessary for avoiding congestion, he adds. There will also be traffic lights. Terje said, “We are going to follow the usual standard with red and white lights to show when it is safe to pass”.
The Tunnel to Ensure Safe Passage and Cut Travel Time
The Stad region was selected because of the fierce weather conditions. The Kråkenes lighthouse, which is close, records between 45 and 106 storms every year. Ketil Solvik-Olsen, the Transportation Minister of Norway said the underwater topography and sea currents in this part of the southwestern coast cause complex wave conditions. It gets so bad that there are heavy waves even after the wind has gone down. The sea can be rough even on the less windy days.
“The combination of wind, currents, and waves around this part of the coastline make this section a particularly demanding part of the Norwegian coast”.
Travel time between Norwegian cities and towns in the area will be reduced after the tunnel is commissioned, which will help both cargo and passengers. It will make sea travel considerably safer as well.