Norway to build world’s first tunnel for ships
Norwegian government approved a project to build the world’s first ship tunnel. Construction is set to begin next year, and will last four years.
Norway has been having problems with ships crashing into the shores of Stad peninsula while trying to get from Norwegian into the North sea and vice versa. The area is known for its hostile climate, huge tidal waves, low visibility. Over the past several decades, it has claimed numerous ships and several human lives.
The idea of traversing the peninsula via a tunnel has been in the works for more than a century now. Several Norwegian and foreign engineers have carried out studies to estimate the costs and feasibility of building a tunnel through the peninsula. But so far, none of them have been initiated. Until now.
In 2014, the Norwegian Parliament agreed to designate $1 billion for the tunnel construction in its National Transport Plan. Detailed studies were carried out by experts and finally, after two years, the project was approved by the Government.
Construction will begin by blasting 7.5 million tonnes of rock, which will then be removed by diggers and barges. The use of tunnel boring machines was considered, but after it was concluded that the water could interfere with their electronics, this suggestion was rejected. Instead, workers will have to bore their way into the mountains the old fashioned way – with explosives, diggers and pickaxes. However, given the fact that Norwegians are used to building mega projects in remote and hostile environment, it is expected that everything will go as planned.
Once completed, the tunnel will become one of the world’s top engineering marvels. Nearly 120 ft wide, it will be wider than the Panama canal locks. With its height of 150 ft, it will be able to accommodate even the largest cruise ships, sailboats and coastal steamers. It is expected to be one mile long.
The tunnel will only be able to accommodate one ship at a time, meaning that when one enters it, others have to wait for it to come out on the other side. But this shouldn’t pose a problem, as Norwegian engineers estimate that around 30 ships will be using the tunnel on a daily basis.
Terje Andreassen, the project leader, says he is optimistic but knows that many challenges await him and his team. “The tunnel will be nearly 50 meters high, so in order to maintain a sufficient safety level, we will need to work in phases. Some rocks will be manually drilled, instead of blown apart, to prevent ceiling collapses. Afterwards, they will be removed from the tunnel and put on barges”.
Around 80 workers will be assigned to building the tunnel. Andreassen expects the entire project to be done by 2022. Once completed, it will become a tourist attraction of its own, spawning thousands of visitors from all over the world and boosting the local economy.