Mile-long ship tunnel will offer safe passage through hazardous peninsula
Four years after we interviewed one of the engineers tasked with realizing it, Norway's remarkably ambitious Stad Ship Tunnel has finally been given the thumbs up. Slated to begin construction next year, the tunnel will cut through an entire peninsula, allowing ships to bypass Norway's most hazardous shipping route.
Hailed as the world's first "full-scale" ship tunnel (though there was a ship tunnel open in France that could fit smaller boats until it collapsed in the 1960s), the Stad Ship Tunnel will enable ships to avoid sailing around the treacherous waters of the Stad peninsula by cutting directly though it. It will have a height of 50 m (164 ft), from its floor to its ceiling, and a width of 36 m (118 ft). It will reach a total length of 1.7 km (1.05 miles).
In all, a total of 3 billion cubic meters (over 105 billion cu ft) of rock is expected to be removed using a series of barges. Engineers will use a technique of horizontal drilling and explosives to first remove the upper ceiling section, then switch to vertical drilling and explosives for the lower section. The entrance and exit of the tunnel will be left partially blocked during this time so that the interior remains dry while work goes on, then blasted open when it's time to fill it with water. High-profile architecture firm Snøhetta – itself no stranger to impressive engineering feats – is handling the design of the entrance and exit.
Once it opens for business, an average of 19 ships a day will pass through, with one-way traffic that alternates every hour. We've no word on their tonnage, but we're not talking about weekend pleasure craft here and they will be substantial cargo ships, as well as passenger vessels.
Assuming all goes to plan, completion is expected by 2026. The budget has now increased since we last reported on the project and is currently set at NOK 2.8 billion (roughly US$330 million), not including taxes.
"Based on the allocation letter, we will now start the processes of acquisitioning properties in the area where the ship tunnel will be located, as well as put in place a project organization, prepare a tender basis and initiate a tender," says temporary project manager Terje Andreassen. "There is much work to be done, but we have carried out extensive studies and planning that will form the basis for the work."
Source: Norwegian Coastal Administration