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Tunnel Trouble

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Tunnel Trouble

Vadlaheidi tunnel.

Photo: RÚV.

It is ironic, yet fitting, that yesterday’s planned signing ceremony for the Dýrafjörður road tunnel had to be canceled due to poor road conditions.

The Dýrafjörður tunnel is planned to dig south through mountains from the landward end of Dýrafjörður fjord in the West Fjords region. The tunnel would supersede the treacherous Hrafnseyrarheiði mountain pass, which is left unplowed and usually impassable all winter long—leaving the south and north of the West Fjords region cut off from each other.

The signature ceremony, between construction companies Metrostav a.s. from the Czech Republic and Iceland’s Suðurverk, was due to take place at Hrafnseyri yesterday, the official first day of summer. Snowstorms meant the ceremony was postponed, RÚV reported—though the contracts themselves were signed as planned, in Reykjavík, without ceremony.

The official groundbreaking ceremony will now take place in mid-May and it is likely the first shovel of dirt will be dug out by the Minister for Transportation.

In other tunneling news, workers on the embattled Vaðlaheiði tunnel project in North Iceland—which finds itself over budget and over schedule, largely due to unpredictable geology and geothermal activity in the area—say they are now just 37 meters away from breaking through to the other side. The moment will occur next Friday, they hope.

The breakthrough moment was initially expected to happen in autumn 2015.

After breaking through, there is still much that needs doing before the tunnel opens. This includes sealing the walls and laying the road, as well as installing lighting, ventilation and safety features.

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