Norway is one of the Northern European countries that is characterized by its rugged coastline, huge fjords and thousands of islands spanning 83.281 km. The roads are very curvy, making it a hard and long journey to travel along the coast. Traveling Norway from the North to South could take around 23 hours. The current highway, which connects both points, goes through several fjords and mountains and you must take seven ferries, which can make for a dangerous trip when the weather conditions are bad. In order for the Norwegian Public Roads Administration to make the drive easier, they are developing an outstanding project that is very unique. When the project is completed, it will reduce the journey between Kristiansand in the South to Trondheim in the North to just 10 hours driving time.
E39 Coastal Highway is considered by experts to be one of the biggest engineering projects in the world. It will cost around $30 million and it is expected to be completed by 2035. It will involve renewing the whole road through route E39, building new highway bridges and two huge, curved, parallel underwater tunnels, which will be submerged 20 to 30-meters below the surface of the Norwegian Sea and then connected to massive floating pontoons to stabilize the structure. Every tunnel will have two lanes, one for traffic and the other for emergencies, maintenance and bike lanes. There will also be ventilation and a light system. Although much research has been done, problems and delays could still appear during the construction. This is because the floor of every fjord has it’s own delicate geology and bridges can disrupt maritime activities.
In the beginning the idea was to build bridges all along the coast by connecting fjords, but it was rejected because it would be much more expensive due to fjord extent and it would also interfere with maritime traffic. Fjords are one of the main touristic attractions in Norway, which means that many ships sail every day through this natural paradise. In addition, many navy vessels use this area for military spec tests.
Despite the high cost of E39 Coastal Highway project, the economy will improve due to the reduction costs in exportation. About 57% of them will come from the West region and will be made by maritime transport. The new structure will reduce transport costs and the economy will become more efficient. On the other hand, the Norwegian population can take advantage of what the construction will mean to people who live in difficult areas of access, especially because they will not have to wait for a helicopter if they run into an emergency situation. Certainly, E39 Coastal Highway will improve the quality of life for many nearby inhabitants.
Innovation is not new in Norway. The country currently hosts with the longest road-tunnel, a 24.5 km tunnel that was built in 2000 under the Norwegian mountains and it connects Laerdal and Aurlud. Norway is also home to the deepest underwater tunnel, which is 7.76 km long with a depth of 286 meters. Depending on the success of E39 Coastal Highway project, the Norwegian government will consider installing an additional floating tunnel to help smooth out the problems with its unique geographical location.
Modern engineering has allowed engineers to build many astonishing projects in just the last few years. All of them – roads, bridges, ports, airports and reservoirs among many others – aim to make people’s lives easier and to impact the economic growth of the country by improving it. Both of these goals can’t be reached without the power of an essential tool nowadays: technology.