It is expected that the toll collection in the Hvalfjörður tunnel will cease by the end of September, Skessuhorn reports. The tunnel, which opened on the 11th of July, 1998 at a cost of 70 million $, has greatly shortened distances for drivers since opening. The private company Spölur is now finishing its last tasks, such as cleaning the tunnel along with regular maintenance. Barring any last-minute changes, the company will hand over the reins of the tunnel to the Icelandic Road Administration by the end of September, 2018.
Original plans projected that it would take around 20 years to recover the costs of building the tunnel through toll fares. The private company Spölur has handled the collection of the toll fares hitherto, as well as taking charge of all repairs and security in the tunnel. Traffic volume has been significantly higher than originally projected, so it has been clear for some years that the tunnel has been paid for. There were even plans afoot at one point to construct another tunnel through the fjord, which would allow traffic in opposing directions to be separated.
The Icelandic Road Administration will now take over the reigns of the tunnel. The previously manned toll booths are expected to be unmanned now, and security will be controlled from The Icelandic Road Administration offices. “The only difference will be that security monitoring will not take place in the booths next to the tunnel, but rather in the monitoring stations of the Icelandic Road Administration in Borgartún, Reykjavík or in Ísafjörður”, G Pétur Matthíasson, the public relations officer of the Icelandic Road Administration commented.
The tunnel cuts through Hvalfjörður fjord, just north of Reykjavík. Previously, drivers had to undertake the arduous trip into the long and winding Hvalfjörður, which was often deemed unpassable due to weather conditions. The time it took to pass through the fjord was shortened from an hour to 7 minutes. The Hvalfjörður tunnel is part of Route 1, and is 5 770 metre-long in total, reaching a depth of 165 metres below sea level.
Those drivers heading to West Iceland, the Westfjords, or the North of Iceland can expect their purse to hurt a little less during their trip to Iceland. Spölur will soon start work to clear up all toll fare subscription accounts.
The toll rates had previously been 1000 króna (9.22 $, 7.98 €) for passenger vehicles. Further information can be found on Spölur's website - www.spolur.is, as well as the website of the Icelandic Road Administration - www.road.is