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The world's first ship tunnel is officially approved!

The world's first ship tunnel is officially approved!

Column:Industry News    Date:2021/4/13 8:38:20    Viewed:

The world's first full-size ship tunnel, the Stad Ship Tunnel in Norway, has been approved and preparations for construction have officially begun. It took nearly 150 years from the start of the proposal in 1874 to the approval of the construction of the world's first ship tunnel.

The Norwegian Coastal Administration has confirmed that the Norwegian Ministry of Transport and Communications has given its approval to the Stad Ship Tunnel project. Terje Andreassen, interim project manager for the Norwegian Coastal Administration's Stad Ship Tunnel, said that the agency will begin the process of acquiring property in the area where the ship tunnel will be located, which is expected to be completed within 2021; it will also establish a project organisation to launch a tender for the construction of the tunnel, with the aim of selecting a contractor in 2021 and starting construction by 2022.

It is understood that Norway has allocated NOK 75 million (approximately US$8.8 million) in the 2021 international budget for start-up funding. The Stad ship tunnel project is expected to cost NOK 2.8 billion (approximately USD 330 million) overall, excluding VAT. The construction period will be three to four years.

The idea of building a ship tunnel through the Stad peninsula has been discussed for more than 100 years, with the original proposal being documented as far back as the 1870s. The concept of a "dedicated sea tunnel for ships" has been in the planning stages for decades and has received a lot of attention since its inception, with Norway officially approving the construction of the Stadt ship tunnel in 2017. Initial planning was carried out in 2018, but the proposal was rejected due to the high cost of the project, for which additional geological exploration and cost analysis was carried out in the first half of 2019, resulting in a revised project cost that meets Norwegian official requirements; in addition, the design of the tunnel has been optimised.

The Norwegian Coastal Administration expects construction work on the Stadt Ship Tunnel project to be completed in 2026. This will be the first full-size ship tunnel in the world. Previously, a tunnel that could accommodate small ships had been opened in France, but collapsed in the 1960s.

The combination of currents and submarine topography create particularly complex and unpredictable navigational conditions in this area, with 100 days a year of extreme weather making it difficult for ships to pass. The island of Stadt is a major obstacle to the establishment of a fast boat passenger route from Bergen to Ålesund, and the idea of building a ship tunnel was first proposed in 1874.

With the high mountainous plateau surrounding Stadt Bay, the Stadt Ship Tunnel will be cut under a high mountain at 645 metres to connect the coastal city of Bergen with Ålesund. The tunnel will be approximately 37 metres high, with a height of 50 metres from the water to the top of the tunnel and a width of 26.5 metres, and will have a total length of 1.7 kilometres. And only one way at a time, but even if you wait here, the time taken to pass through the tunnel will be considerably shorter than the original time taken to pass through the peninsula and, above all, avoid the danger. It is estimated that between 70 and 120 vessels will pass through the tunnel every day when it is completed.

The construction process is expected to use multiple barges to remove over 3 million cubic metres of rock, starting with horizontal drilling and blasting techniques to remove the upper top section, before moving to vertical drilling and the use of explosives to remove the lower section. During this time, the entrances and exits to the tunnel will be partially blocked to allow the interior to remain dry while work is carried out, and then blasted open when water is injected. The renowned construction company Snøhetta is responsible for designing the entrances and exits of the Stadt Ship Tunnel.

Once operational, an average of 19 ships will pass through the Statt Ship Tunnel every day, with a maximum capacity of 16,000 tonnes. The tunnel is one-way, changes direction every hour and is controlled by the ship traffic control centre. With the tunnel, ships can pass directly through Stad, avoiding one of the most challenging and dangerous routes in Norwegian waters.

The Norwegian Coastal Administration says that the completed structure will resemble "a large and long hall between the mountains". While the tunnel is likely to attract the attention of infrastructure enthusiasts from all over the world, the main goal of the tunnel is to make the crossing of the Stadthavet Sea "safe" and "predictable".

At present it is not possible to walk through the tunnel, so if you are interested, a boat ride is the only option.

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