Norway wants to build the world’s first full-scale ship tunnel

The Stad Penninsula in Norway has one of the most dangerous coastlines in the region. As the meeting place between the Norwegian Sea and North Sea, the turbulent waters have claimed the lives of dozens sailors over the last several decades. Which may explain why Norway’s top coastal agency wants to dig a $ 272 million, mile-long “ship tunnel” to create a safer passage for commercial vessels.

Designed to accommodate ships as massive as Norway’s Hurtigruten cruise vessels, the tunnel would be nearly 150 feet tall, 118 feet wide, and more than a mile long. The Norwegian Parliament earmarked one billion Norwegian kroner, or around $ 118 million, for the project in the National Transport Plan for 2014-2023. Construction is set to begin as early as 2018.

Which is not to say this is a done deal. The coastal administration estimates that approximately 7.5 million tons of blasted rock would need to be removed, which could take up to four years to complete.

Ships might access the tunnel from the north in Selje, with southern access via the Moldefjord. This is where the Stad peninsula is at its narrowest. The current proposal for the tunnel incorporates a bridge near the southern access so pedestrians can glimpse ships as they pass by.

If a ship tunnel sounds like an absurd idea, it’s probably because no one has tried to build one before. The Stad Ship Tunnel, as proposed by the Norwegian Coastal Administration, may never break ground, but Norway’s tourism industry is already stumping for the idea.

VisitNorway.com says the architecture firm Snøhetta put together these renderings as part of a photo project targeted towards politicians to help them make a decision. Which given how cool this thing looks, shouldn’t be that hard.

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