Building a massive tunnel for ships to pass through may sound like a bonkers – and possibly counterproductive – idea, but for a coastal region in Norway, it could potentially save many lives.
The Stad Peninsula is one of the country’s most hazardous shipping routes where dangerous storms rage anything from 45 to 106 days per year, taking many lives with it.
The Norwegian Coastal Administration (NCA) says high waves, along with a combination of sea currents and subsea topography can create difficult sailing conditions – even on the days when it is less windy.
Which is precisely why the Stad Ship Tunnel concept is generating a lot of attention.
While the project is yet to be approved, the idea has certainly been well-received by Norway’s tourism industry, which has commissioned architecture firm Snohetta to put together snazzy renderings.
The NCA, meanwhile, has finalised the route for the tunnel which is expected to be more than a mile long, 49 metres high, 36 metres wide and is set to cost two billion Norwegian kroner (£187 million).
Should the project be given the green light, it would make the Stad Ship Tunnel the world’s first ship tunnel of its size.
The NCA said the tunnel will be a huge boost to the fishing industry as well as passenger transport.
“There is a lot of transport of fish in this area and the Stad sea is a hinder for both transport of living fish from fish farms and caught fish,” project manager Terje Andreassen told New Atlas.
“It will make all transport of goods more predictable. It will also be possible to establish speed passenger ferries between Bergen and Alesund.”
Andreassen said, on average, there will be 19 ships passing through each day.
“There will be one-way traffic which will alternate every hour,” he added. “The traffic will be controlled by one of our vessel traffic centres and slot times will be given to all commercial vessels.”
The project is now embarking upon a feasibility study phase and once that is completed, the tunnel will go through the second phase of quality assurance.
And then, there’s also that matter of blasting through 7.5 million tonnes of solid rock to build the tunnel.