The world’s first ship tunnel through a mountain is to be built on the remote western coast of Norway after a national debate lasting more than a century. The new ‘tourist attraction’ will not only save time but also money.
The tunnel has been designed by Snøhetta, who designed the home of the Norwegian National Opera in Oslo and the new headquarters in Paris for the French newspaper Le Monde.
Norwegian ministers have given the green light for the Stad tunnel that will be blasted through a mile of rock at a cost of about £260m. The tunnel was chosen in preference to a ship canal option.
The tunnel, which is likely to take a decade to build, will mean that ships can avoid navigating around the Stad peninsula, where several ships have been wrecked and 33 lives have been lost in stormy seas since the end of the Second World War.
Instead of braving the worst of the weather, freight and passenger ships will be able to sail directly between the Norwegian Sea to the north and the North Sea to the south while remaining within fjord waters.
The idea was first proposed as long ago as 1874 in a newspaper article.
Bjorn Lodemel an MP for the Sogn and Fjordane region which includes the Stad peninsula said: “It will provide a safe journey around Stad, laying the foundation for the region’s industrial development and establishment as a world-class tourist destination. It will also facilitate the shifting of more transport from road to sea.”
When it is complete possibly in 2029 the tunnel under a 645m mountain will be 45m high, 36m wide and 1.7 km long.
It will be large enough to accommodate 16,000 tonne freight and passenger ships in water 12 metres deep.
Norway has a worldwide reputation for tunnelling and is home to the world’s longest road tunnel northeast of Bergen which is just over 15 miles long.