- The world’s first tunnel for large ships has been greenlighted by Norway’s Ministry of Transport and Communications and will be put out to bid soon, according to the Norwegian Coastal Administration. It will allow cargo and passenger vessels to pass underneath the Stad peninsula on the country's west coast to avoid the treacherous waters where the Norwegian and North seas meet.
- The tunnel, originally announced in 2017, will bore through just over a mile of the peninsula at its narrowest, southern end and allow ships to avoid the 35 mile trip around the peninsula.
- At approximately 120 feet high and 87 feet wide, construction will require 3.9 million cubic yards of rock to be blasted or drilled away to connect Kjødepollen Bay in the west and Vanylvsfjorden at its eastern terminus, which will allow vessels up to 17,500 tons to pass through it, according to the NCA website.
Building on a concept that dates back to at least 1874 when an overland route was proposed to carry vessels from one fjord to the other, the tunnel will drastically simplify commerce and travel on the peninsula, while eliminating a harrowing passage around Norway’s most wind-swept point. Stormy conditions there prevail more than 100 days per year, and ships often have to wait days for a clear weather window. Since tides at each entrance vary only slightly, a current of just 2 knots is expected inside the tunnel, which is easily navigable.
The tunnel’s stacked stone wall entrances were designed by Oslo-based architectural firm Snøhetta, and create slightly sloping terraces at each end. Using wire-cutting and blasting, the terraces will be left rough to blend into the landscape, while the geometry of the shape “is also highly beneficial for the structural stability of the portal,” according to Snøhetta’s website.
A general contractor has not yet been chosen for the $330 million project, which is scheduled to begin in 2022 and take three to four years.
With $8.7 million in startup funds allocated for 2021, the Ministry of Transport and Communications is preparing a status presentation to the Norwegian Parliament this spring. The NCA will then establish a procurement plan, prepare project spec documents and announce a request for proposals. It plans to host a conference with pre-qualified contractors during spring or early summer of this year, with a goal of signing a contractor by the end of 2021.
“There is much work to be done, but we have carried out extensive studies and planning that will form the basis for the work. The allocation letter requests that the property acquisition be completed, if possible, during 2021,” said Terje Andreassen, temporary project manager for the Stad Ship Tunnel at the Norwegian Coastal Administration, referring to land purchases that still need to be carried out at the tunnel entrances. “If everything goes according to plan, the world's first full-scale ship tunnel will be completed in 2025 or 2026.”