Regular readers know that I am an infrastructure fanatic. They have either learned to tolerate that or quickly click to another site when they see a heading like the one above. What you might not know is that tunnels are a special interest of mine. You see, at the MA Water Resources Authority, we had to design and build quite a number of them, mostly drilled through bedrock. The longest was 9.5 miles under Boston Harbor, about 400 feet down, excavated with a 28-foot diameter tunnel boring machine, to disperse treated effluent into the ocean. I think it remains the largest single uni-directional bore in the world. (Some of you might put me in that category, too!)
So, you can imagine my excitement upon encountering this behemoth, the Hvalfjörður Tunnel. As noted by Wikipedia, it is a road tunnel under the Hvalfjörður fjord in Iceland and a part of the Hringvegur (Iceland's ring road). It is 5,762m long and reaches depth of 165m below sea level. Opened on 11 July 1998, it shortens the distance from Reykjavík to the western and northern parts of the island by 45km. Passing the fjord now takes 7 minutes instead of about an hour before. You can get a sense from the accompanying map. The tunnel is at the lower left, while the previous route circumnavigates the fjord.
It is actually a bit scary to drive through, especially the first time. It is very long, with a long winding curve, not very bright lighting, and quite a gradient up and down (making it hard to maintain the 70 km/hour speed limit). I thought I would give you an impression of that, so I mounted a camera on my dashboard and produced this video.
Real infrastructure geeks will watch the whole video and complain that I did not film the entire ride. Regular people will say, "You made a video of a tunnel?!"
If you cannot see the video, click here.