Stretching over 15 miles, Norway’s Lærdal Tunnel has been the longest road tunnel in the world since it was built in the 1990s.
Now, the country is trying to construct the world’s first tunnel for ships – which would see between 70 and 120 vessels per day.
As noted by BBC News, the tunnel started gaining public support in the 1980s, and the Norwegian Coastal Administration (NCA) has since embarked on several feasibility studies to see how it could be realized.
Terje Andreassen, the tunnel’s project manager, tells Business Insider that the NCA will submit its findings to Norway’s Department of Transport in May 2017. The project would need to be fully financed by the Norwegian Parliament, which has already designated approximately $117 million ($1 billion NOK) for the NCA’s research.
If the plans are approved, construction could start as early as 2019, Andreassen says.
The NCA worked with Snøhetta, an Oslo-based architecture firm, to create renderings of what the tunnel would look like. Check them out below.
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If Norway’s Stad Ship Tunnel gets approved, it would be located on the Stadhavet Sea, an area known for heavy winds and hurricanes.
Stormy weather makes it almost impossible for ships to travel in the area. Vessels often wait for hours or even days before it becomes safe enough to cross, Andreassen says. His team at the NCA is conducting research on the feasibility of building the tunnel.
The Stad Tunnel would allow for safer passage along the sea, Andreassen says. Here’s a rendering of what it would look like:
From the north, ships would access the tunnel near the town of Selje. The southern entrance would be through the Molde fjord, where there would also be a new pedestrian bridge.
The NCA estimates that the mile-long tunnel would see between 70 and 120 passenger and freight ships per day. It would measure 148 feet high and 118 feet wide.
Various kinds of vessels would pass through it, including small ferries, which Andreassen says currently can’t travel along the Stadhavet Sea when the weather’s bad. All ships would navigate the tunnel on their own.
If the ambitious project moves forward, the tunnel’s construction team would need to drill and blast through rock to create a channel.
The tunnel would be the first of its kind in the world — but it wouldn’t be cheap. The NCA estimates that its construction could cost around 2.3 billion NOK, or approximately $267 million.