Spölur, the operator of the tunnel underneath Hvalfjördur fjord in southwest Iceland, is planning to double it to cope with increased traffic. More than 14 million vehicles have passed through the tunnel in one decade, since it opened in 1998.
Representatives of Spölur plan to hand in a report on the cost and design of a new tunnel underneath Hvalfjördur to Minister of Transport Kristján Möller today, to commemorate the current tunnel’s tenth anniversary, Morgunbladid reports.
The tunnel was formally opened by the then Prime Minister Davíd Oddsson on July 11, 1998.
Since then more than 14 million vehicles have passed through the tunnel and the average traffic is 5,500 cars every 24 hours. The traffic has subsided slightly for the past few months with rising fuel prices, but it is still much more extensive than originally estimated.
The tunnel was originally designed for 5,000 cars to pass through it every 24 hours and chairman of Spölur’s board Gísli Gíslason believes the tunnel cannot cope with much more traffic, definitely not if the 24-hour traffic reaches 6,000 cars on average.
Gíslason said experimental drilling for a new tunnel has delivered good results. A new tunnel which would run parallel to the old one would cost between ISK 6.5 and 7.5 billion (USD 86 million and 99 million, EUR 54 million and 63 million).
Gíslason hopes the new tunnel will open in 2013 or 2014.