Norway plans for a pioneering construction project that will facilitate ship transportation.
The plan includes the construction of a tunnel from which ships will pass by in order to avoid the Stad peninsula. The endeavor has been underway since 2017 and was approved by Norway's Ministry of Transport and Communications in late February 2021.
The waters in the Stad peninsula are dangerous since it is an exposed area where navigation is challenging. Except for the water currents, the underwater topography creates additional issues including unpredictable waves which may persist for a significant amount of time after a storm has passed.
The Norwegian Coastal Administration stated that plans for alternatives such as the one currently underway have been suggested for years. Even the Vikings used to drag their ships over the land in order to avoid the dangerous conditions around the peninsula. During World War II, the Germans also made plans to construct a similar project, however, according to Terje Andreassen, head of the Norwegian Coastal Administration, " the war didn’t last long enough to build it".
The tunnel will create an alternative, faster route for ships around the peninsula. It will stretch for 1700 meters and will be 37 and 36 meters in height and width, respectively.
The construction will begin from the two sides of the tunnel (probably using the drilling and blasting technique). The tunnel face will be excavated in multiple phases. The top of the tunnel will be supported by a layer of shotcrete. Routes from which the excavated material will be transported outside of the tunnel will also be established.
The two entrances of the tunnel will feature walls made from the excavated rocks. The interior of the facility will have led lights that will function both as an aesthetic and a navigation tool. The design aims at making the tunnel fit with the surrounding nature and not interrupt the natural environment.
The total cost of the project is expected to reach $325 with officials mentioning that funding has been secured. The construction process is planned to begin in early 2022 after signing a contractor in 2021. Officials suggest that the construction phase will last for 3-4 years, hence, the tunnel will be completed by 2026.
Norway is a pioneering country for tunnel engineering and has more than 1,100 facilities. The rough terrain and the rockmass conditions (which are generally good) have favored the establishment of such projects.
Despite the excitement for the project, not everyone is in favor of it. According to Knut Samset, Professor of project management at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, the project is not going to be financially prosperous due to its high cost, the fact that it will not always be the faster route and that modern ships will not be obliged to use it. "It’s a very expensive thing. Weather permitting, it's as fast to sail around the cape it is to sail into the fjord and through the tunnel. Plus, today's boats are big enough and safe enough to handle the choppy waters, which makes traveling through the tunnel a moot point," Prof. Samset, stated.
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