Workers succeeded in the breakthrough of Vaðlaheiði tunnel, North Iceland, Friday afternoon, RÚV reports. Three meters of rock had separated the east part of the tunnel from its west part. The tunnel will shorten the driving distance between Akureyri and Mývatn lake by 16 km (10 mi). It’s scheduled to open for traffic in August of 2018.
It’s been a bumpy road since work on the tunnel began in 2013. In 2014, engineers ran into their biggest hindrance, an unexpected aquifer of hot water, emitting 350 liters/sec of water, 46˚C hot (115˚F), into the tunnel.
The project is among the most controversial ones in the history of transportation in Iceland, according to RÚV. It was harshly debated in Alþingi, the Icelandic parliament, when the decision was made to provide a government loan in the amount of ISK 8.7 billion (USD 81.8 million, EUR 74.9 million) to fund it. Since then, cost has reached ISK 14.5 billion (USD 136 million, EUR 125 million), or ISK 4.7 billion (USD 44 million, EUR 40 million) beyond original estimates.
You can watch a video of the breakthrough here.