Highway under the North Atlantic

  • HvalfjarðargöngThe Hvalfjörður Tunnel is 5,770 m long, of which 3,750 m are beneath the seabed. The lowest point of the tunnel is 165 m below sea level.
  • Representatives of Spölur ehf., the Icelandic government, the tunnel contractor and Icelandic and overseas finance companies signed the construction contract on 22 February 1996.
  • The Tunnel was formally opened by the Prime Minister on 11 July 1998, eight months ahead of schedule.
  • Spölur owns and operates the tunnel. Road tolls pay the costs of building and operating the tunnel. The long-term loans taken for the project will be paid off in 20 years and then, in 2018, the state will acquire the tunnel free of charge.
  • The Hvalfjörður Tunnel was the first undersea tunnel in the world to be drilled through young basalt in a geothermal area. The financing agreements were the first of their kind in the Nordic countries, and involved Icelandic and overseas banks, Icelandic pension funds and the US life insurance company John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance, Inc.
  • During the design and preparation stages, it was estimated that up to 1,500 cars per day would use the tunnel. The daily average over the first year, however, was 2,500 vehicles, 4,500 in 2005 and 5,500 in 2007. This is because the number of cars in Iceland rose more than was anticipated, and people travel more than before simply because of the tunnel! Last but not least, the toll rate has decreased substantially since the tunnel opened.
  • The Hvalfjörður tunnel lies across a geothermal belt. The rock layers it penetrates were formed in eruptions 2.8 to 3.3 million years ago. Volcanic activity has long since stopped, but the temperature of the tunnel rock ranges from 10º to 30º C, reaching 57º C in one part of the southern section under the construction. This heats the air in the tunnel, which then rises from the southern end, drawing cold air in from the northern end. This natural circulation saves power required to drive the ventilation fans.
  • It is anticipated that a second tunnel will need to be constructed in the near future to handle ever-increasing demand.

Spölur ehf  owns and operates Hvalfjörður Tunnel. The office is located at Kirkjubraut 28, 300 Akranes, tel. (+354) 431 5900, fax (+354) 431 5901. ID number: 511295-2119.




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