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Sunday, June 27, 2010


OK it doesn't actually exist but the Norwegians are seriously looking at cutting a tunnel under a mountain big enough to sail a ship through. See video.
A recent report from the Norwegian Coastal Administration recommended building the 1,700-metre (5,577 feet) tunnel and concluded that it would be cost effective.

The tunnel, estimated to cost around $310 million and take five years to build, would cut through a peninsula, saving ships the risky journey around the coastline.

The idea to build a shipping passage was first put forward long ago. Some say the first sketch was made in 1870, others say plans started around 1920 with the idea of building a canal through the peninsula.

But in the 1980s, the concept gained momentum and the government got involvement.

"What's new is that we have managed to calculate the costs of waiting," coastal director Kirsti Slotsvik told Reuters. She said the tunnel could also prevent loss of life.
I must admit a little scepticism about it being such good value for money But hope they build it just for swank. It would be one of the engineering wonders of the modern world. Fit it out with floodlights & a sound system & play In the Hall of the Mountain King or Wagner through it & people would be taking their holidays in Norway just to go - I mean what has Disney World got that compares?

The cross sectional area of this is 1000 square meters. By comparison a dual carriage way tunnel at 5m high & 10m wide would be 1/20th of the size, though that underplays the difficulties since the wider a tunnel arch the more stress.

The £210 million price tag on this puts the Scottish government's officially claimed price for a conventional road tunnel under the Forth of £4673 million in perspective. Since their cost estimate "does seem as if the various tunnel options went through the appropriate STAG review process - a process which was also peer reviewed - and so it would be surprising if any costs had been deliberately inflated or were artificially high. (To lend further credence to this view, from a cursory glance of the Stage 1 report, it seems that no criticisms were made of the STAG process by the Forth Replacement Crossing Committee)" you may believe that the entire government & its "peer reviewing" is honest or not according to taste.

I regret that there is no place in Scotland or elsewhere I can justify such a ship tunnel, though open to suggestions. It requires a very short land portage between 2 lots of water which is on a heavily used sea route & where the land bridge is sufficiently high that a canal would not be a cheaper alternative. As I have mentioned before such a place is called in Gaelic a Tarbert. The closest I can see would be the Tarbet between Loch Fyne & Loch Lomond which, since Lomond isn't a sea loch would also require a lock. On the other hand if cutting like this is economically feasible I can imagine structures up to & including underground cities being even more feasible (being built without the bottom 12 meters under water helps). This tunnel has a total volume of 1.7 million cubic metres (the Empire State Building being 1 million & costing $24,718,000 at the time which is about $375 million now).

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I wonder if this has been seen by anyone in Panama?
The Panama canal is about 40 miles long & a little wider (& people regularly say the money should be spent to widen it further). I suspect making a wider tunnel would be the real problem because of the stress on the roof but admit I don't know.
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