Tunnel in Iceland

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Despite the challenging topography, there are very few tunnels in Iceland .

Now, in January 2020, twelve tunnels are in operation in the country, one under construction and two more in planning. In the planning of tunnels from the year 2000 by the Icelandic road administration Vegagerðin , 24 possible projects were examined. Seven of these tunnels have now been completed and another is under construction. The Icelandic word göng for tunnel is a feminine form that only exists in the plural .

First tunnel

The first tunnel to be completed was the Arnarnessgöng , 30 m long, in the Westfjords in 1948 . The next came in 1967 the Strákagöng with 800 m on the Tröllaskagi peninsula in the north-west of Iceland. The third tunnel in 1978 was the Oddsskarðsgöng with 640 m in the east fjords of Iceland. And this was replaced in 2017 by the 7542 m long Norðfjarðargöng . All other (and longer) tunnels were not built until 1990.

Reasons for tunnels

The Icelandic tunnels were usually built for one of two reasons:

Either they connect localities at a short distance, but the topography (fjords, mountains) require significant detours. Examples are the Hvalfjarðargöng , Héðinsfjarðargöng , Múlagöng and Fáskrúðsfjarðargöng . The Almannaskarðsgöng , Bolungarvíkurgöng , Norðfjarðargöng , Vestfjarðagöng and Strákagöng replace pass roads that were not safe for winter due to the Nordic weather conditions and were sometimes closed for weeks, in the last example even 7-8 months a year. Since there was an alternative route in each case (either a long journey overland or changing to the ship from which each affected location could be reached), the need for tunnels was less pronounced than in other mountainous countries, taking into account the high costs and low population density.

Distribution in the country

The tunnels are distributed very irregularly over Iceland:

Three of the tunnels ( Arnarnessgöng , Bolungarvíkurgöng , Vestfjarðagöng ) can be found in the northern Westfjords in Ísafjarðarbær and the neighboring municipality of Bolungarvík . Three other tunnels (the Strákagöng , Héðinsfjarðargöng and Múlagöng ) are in the municipality of Fjallabyggð with the towns of Ólafsfjörður and Siglufjörður in northern Iceland. Two tunnels are in operation in the east fjords . These are the Fáskrúðsfjarðargöng and Norðfjarðargöng . There are three tunnels on the ring road :

The Hvalfjarðargöng north of Reykjavík , the Vaðlaheiðargöng near Akureyri in the north and the Almannaskarðsgöng near Höfn in the southeast.


Vestfjarðagöng has a special feature . It has three tunnel portals and a branch in the mountain (and thus three tunnel branches). Accordingly, the question of the longest tunnel is not easy to answer. According to the official representation of the Icelandic Road Traffic Office Vegagerðin, Héðinsfjarðargöng is the longest tunnel with 10.5 km. However, this tunnel consists of two tunnels 6.9 and 3.7 km in length. In between, a valley is crossed at almost 600 m. All three branches of Vestfjarðagöng, however, together have a length of 9160 m. However, this cannot be done in one go. The two longest branches, driving from Súgandafjörður to the southwest, are together 7057 m long. Vestfjarðagöng is still the longest continuous tunnel in Iceland.

Since January 1, 2019, you have to pay a toll to drive through Vaðlaheiðargöng. Apart from that, all tunnels in Iceland are currently toll-free, including Hvalfjarðargöng , which was previously privately operated, since the end of September 2018 . This is the first and only one below sea level.

image Surname length start of building opening region Street traffic comment
Arnarnesgöng.JPG Arnarnessgöng 0030 m 1947 1948 Vestfirdir S61 512 first tunnel in Iceland
Strákagöng-north2010.JPG Strákagöng 0800 m 1959 November 10, 1967 Norðurland vestra S76 330 Single lane with alternative options
OddsskarðgöngTunnel.jpg Oddsskarðsgöng 0640 m 1974 December 14, 1977 Austurland earlier S92 Einstreifig with alternatives
decommissioned and by the
Norðfjarðargöng replaced
Múlagöng-west2010.jpg Múlagöng 3,400 m 1988 March 1, 1991 Norðurland eystra S82 682 Single lane with alternative options
Vestfjardargöng 2.JPG Vestfjarðagöng 9,120 m 1991 September 14, 1996 Vestfirdir S60
The tunnel branches out underground,
sometimes with two lanes, mostly
with one lane with alternative options
Grandpa Hvalfjarðagöng.jpg Hvalfjarðargöng 5,770 m 1996 July 11, 1998 Höfuðborgarsvæðið
R1 7266 up to 165 m below sea level
was subject to a toll until 2018
Almannaskardsgöng.JPG Almannaskarðsgöng 1,308 m 2004 June 24, 2005 Austurland R1 662 replaces a pass road
with a gradient of up to 17%
Fáskrufjardargöng.JPG Fáskrúðsfjarðargöng 5,850 m 2003 September 9, 2005 Austurland R1 858 shortens the road by 45 km
Bolungarvíkurgöng.JPG Bolungarvíkurgöng 5,156 m 2008 September 25, 2010 Vestfirdir S61 980 replaces a
road endangered by falling rocks and avalanches
2014-04-29 10-51-37 Iceland - Siglufirði Siglufjörður.JPG Héðinsfjarðargöng 10,572 m 2006 October 2, 2010 Norðurland eystra S76 720 3,642 m + 6930 m in between
a part above ground
Húsavíkurgöng 0943 m 2016 August 31, 2017 Norðurland eystra --- Not for general road traffic
Norðfjarðargöng 7,542 m 2013 November 11, 2017 Austurland S92 466 Successor to Oddsskarðsgöng
Vaðlaheiðargöng.png Vaðlaheiðargöng 7,400 m 2013 January 12, 2019 Norðurland eystra R1 1825 toll
Dýrafjarðargöng 5,600 m 2017 unknown (~ 2020) Vestfirdir S60 under construction
Álftafjarðargöng 2,700 m unknown unknown Vestfirdir S61 The plan
is to replace the Arnarnessgöng
Fjarðarheiðargöng 13,500 m unknown unknown Austurland S93 in planning

In the Traffic column , the traffic volume is given with vehicles per day as an annual average.

Individual evidence

  1. Jarðgangaáætlun. Retrieved January 10, 2020 (Icelandic).
  2. Beygingarlýsing íslensks nútímamáls: göng. Retrieved January 11, 2020 (Icelandic).
  3. Morgunblaðið December 14, 1977 page 48
  4. Jarðgöng á vegakerfinu. Retrieved January 10, 2020 (Icelandic).