Norway's Blasting A Ship Tunnel Through A Mile Of Rock To Save Sailors' Lives

By Holly Brockwell on at

It was originally proposed in 1874, but after more than a hundred years of heated debate, a world-first ship tunnel is finally scheduled to be built through a mountain in Norway.

The Stad Ship Tunnel will cut directly through the Stad peninsula (Standlandet), allowing ships to sail through the middle of the rock rather than go all the way around.

See where the land gets really narrow (circled)? Wouldn't it be handy if someone just erased that bit? That's essentially the plan.

It's not just to shave a bit of time off people's journeys, either: in fact, it apparently won't be any quicker to navigate the important shipping path between Bergen and Alesund. However, it's likely to save lives: the Stadhavet Sea is the most dangerous area of Norway's coast, with 33 deaths since the end of WW2.

Blasting the tunnel through the solid rock is estimated to take about four years, and will remove 7.5 million tonnes of sploded rock. At 1700 metres long (that's just over a mile), 49 metres high and 36 metres wide, it'll be the first full-scale ship tunnel of its size.

The idea for the tunnel has been kicking around since a newspaper article suggested it in 1874, but debate raged for decades about whether it'd be better to put in a rail link and leave ships to the mercy of the hurricane-strength winds.

It must have been a tricky project to get signed off: the Norwegian Coastal Administration reports that "The net benefit will be minus NOK 910 million (about -£88,000,000), while the total project costs will amount to approximately NOK 2 billion (about £190,000,000)."

Still, you can't put a price on safety. [The Australian]


Main image: Norwegian Coastal Administration