Norway is to build the world’s largest tunnel for ships, having granted permission for a 1.7km (1 mile) passageway to be burrowed under a rocky peninsula in the north west of the country.
The Stad Ship Tunnel, which is expected to cost around 2.7bn Norwegian Krone (£250m), will enable freight ships, cruise liners and smaller vessels to take an underground shortcut through the Stad peninsula to avoid the rough winds and waters of the Stadhavet Sea, the most treacherous stretch of Norway’s coastline.
The Norwegian Coastal Administration (NCA) said the mix of strong currents and rocky underwater topography has meant the idea of tunnelling through has been suggested frequently but had not received funding until now.
“The combination of wind, currents and waves around this part of the coastline make this section a particularly demanding part of the Norwegian coast,” a statement said.
“The conditions also cause heavy waves to continue for a number of days once the wind has died down – this causes difficult sailing conditions even on less windy days.”
The NCA, which is in charge of the project, said that some 3m cubic metres of rock will be burrowed through to dig the tunnel.
When complete, the tunnel will be 49 metres (160ft) high and 36 metres (120ft) wide.
Announcing the project, Norwegian transport minister Ketil Solvik-Olsen said added the tunnel would be located at the narrowest part of the Stadlandet peninsula, where there are storms 45 to 106 days of the year.
“We are pleased that this ship tunnel will now become a reality,” he said.
Tunnels for boats have been built through mountain ranges before, but the new project will be the first to facilitate access for freight and passenger ships weighting up to 16,000 tonnes.
Norwegian architects Snøhetta were awarded the contract to design the entrances to the tunnel and the lighting inside the tunnel, which will use LED hoses to create a range of effects, including an experience of the Northern Lights.
Construction of the tunnel is set to start in 2019 and should take three to four years to complete.
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