Magazine article Geographical

Tunnel Vision: Norway Is to Undercut a Mountainous Peninsula to Create the World's First Sea Shipping Tunnel

Magazine article Geographical

Tunnel Vision: Norway Is to Undercut a Mountainous Peninsula to Create the World's First Sea Shipping Tunnel

Article excerpt

The Stad tunnel will be the world's first ocean shipping tunnel,' says Terje Andreassen, manager of a grand project aiming to dig directly through the Norwegian Stad mountain peninsula. It is hoped that the 1.7 kilometre tunnel will provide a safer passage for ships than the current, exposed route.

Sticking out like an antler from Norway's coast, the peninsula reaches northwards before spreading into three prongs of land. Exposed to the brunt of the Norwegian sea, the jagged seafront can make for treacherous sailing and often records the highest wind speeds in the country. The solution seems obvious from above: cut through the peninsula at its narrowest point. However, the topography presents a problem.

'In another country, if the landscape was flatter, you could build a canal,' says Andreassen. However, in this part of Norway, the land rises to 500 metres above sea level in a mountainous plateau that is maintained across most of the area.

Therefore, the Norwegian Coastal Administration (NCA) will drill tunnels horizontally from both sides of the mountains in order to meet in the middle, removing three million cubic metres of rock in the process. This process will take three to four years to complete and cost an estimated KR2.6billion ([pounds sterling]240million). While construction has not yet begun, the tunnel has been included in the government's most recent transport plan, and, according to the NCA, could open in early 2023.

Though a first for ocean shipping, navigating under mountains is not a new idea. The UK's deepest underground canal, the Standedge tunnel, opened in 1811 to allow traders to pass under the Pennines. …

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