Norway is known for having some of the most scenic routes in the world.
Along the E39 in particular, which traces the western coast of the country from Kristiansand to Trondheim, you’ll find some breathtaking views of Norway’s famous fjords. But while the view is spectacular, the drive is currently a painfully long 21 hours – all thanks to seven different ferry crossings.
That could all change if a series of submerged floating tunnels currently being proposed becomes reality.
The underwater crossings are set to be installed under several fjords along the coastline by 2035 according to Wired, and will cost as staggering $25billion (£19billion).
It’s estimated they will cut the journey from Kristiansand to Trondheim, via the E39, by half.
At present, land on either side of the fjords are connected by ferries as the distance is too wide and the waters too deep for normal bridges.
A feasibility study conducted in 2012 by the Norwegian Public Roads Administration (NPRA) revealed that the floating tunnel could be the best way to bridge the fjord.
The first of these tunnels is being proposed for Sognefjord, which will connect Oppedal and Lavik.
Sognefjord is currently being served by a 20 minute ferry ride between the two villages.
The proposed tunnel will be composed of two 4,000ft long concrete tubes, one for each direction, that will be braced to each other using trusses and to the bedrock.
They will hang between 65 to 100ft below the water’s surface – far below possible contact with ships.
Each tube will have room for two lanes – one for travel and one for emergencies and repair work according to the proposals.
They will be designed to withstand any tidal movements as well as the effects of ice and cold weather. And as they are below the surface, weather phenomenon such as wind and waves shouldn’t affect them either.
The vertical position of the tubes, ie how far below the surface they are, will be controlled by a series of pontoons that will be floated on the surface of the fjord.
These pontoons will be spaced apart wide enough for ships to pass through – particularly important as there are occasionally naval training exercises in the area.
Once the plans have been approved, the tunnels could be constructed between seven and nine years, although a number of geological surveys still need to be completed.
Arianna Minoretti, a senior engineer with NPRA told Wired: ‘Having this connection means that people there do not have to wait for a helicopter to go to the hospital.’
It also happens to preserve the landscape for those who still want to take the scenic route.
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