Norway Plans Floating Tunnel To Ease Transport
Norway is famous for its majestic fjords and mountains.
Its rugged terrain does not make traveling easy, however. More than 1,000 fjords line the Scandinavian country's west coast, which is home to a third of the country's population of 5.3 million. To make the 1,100 kilometer journey between the southern city of Kristiansand and Trondheim in the north via the west coast, for example, currently takes 21 hours, and requires seven ferry crossings.
The Norwegian government plans to cut that time by half with a ground-breaking $40 billion infrastructure project to make the route "ferry-free,"
The plan includes bridges and the world's deepest and longest rock tunnel – drilled through bedrock under the seabed – measuring 392 meters (1,286 feet) deep and 27 kilometers (17 miles) long.
But the most ambitious aspect is the development of submerged floating tunnels that sit around 30 meters (100 feet) under the surface of the water.
If successful, Norway could win a global race against countries including China, South Korea and Italy, which are researching similar projects.
The Norwegian Public Roads Administration (NPRA), the governmental body responsible for the project, aims to complete construction by 2050.
The journey between Kristiansand and Trondheim is part of the E39, which is a "key route for Norway," explains Kjersti Kvalheim Dunham, a project manager at NPRA.
A combination of motorways, roads and ferry rides, E39 runs along the southwestern Norwegian coast. More than 50 percent of export goods in Norway originate from this area, she adds – yet the route "has a very low standard for a European road." Crossing the fjords via ferry, while a popular transport method, can be time-consuming.