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Earth Transportation Science Technology

Norway Plans to Build the World's First Ship Tunnel (newatlas.com) 138

Norway is planning to build the world's first ship tunnel through the country's Stad peninsula, which is home to harsh weather conditions that often delay shipments and cause dangerous conditions for ship crews. The proposed tunnel would enable ships to travel through the peninsula in safety. New Atlas recently interviewed Stad Ship Tunnel Project Manager Terje Andreassen about the project: NA: We'd usually expect a canal to be built for this kind of purpose, so why a tunnel? Because in this case we are crossing a hill which is more than 300 meters (984 ft) high. The only alternative is a tunnel. From a maritime point of view this is still a canal, but with a "roof." NA: How would you go about making such a large tunnel -- would you use a boring machine, for example, or explosives? First we will drill horizontally and use explosives to take out the roof part of the tunnel. Then all bolts and anchors to secure the roof rock before applying shotcrete. The rest of the tunnel will be done in the same way as in open mining. Vertical drilling and blasting with explosives down to the level of 12 m (42 ft) below the sea level. NA: How much rock will be removed, and how will you go about removing it? There will be 3 billion cubic meters (over 105 billion cubic ft) of solid rock removed. All transportation from the tunnel area will be done by large barges. NA: What, if any, are the unique challenges to building a ship tunnel when compared with a road tunnel? The challenge is the height of this tunnel. There is 50 m (164 ft) from bottom to the roof, so all secure works and shotcrete must be done in several levels. The tunnel will be made dry down to the bottom. We solve this by leaving some rock unblasted in each end of the tunnel to prevent water flowing in.

Assuming it does indeed go ahead -- and with the Norwegian government having already set aside the money, this seems relatively likely -- the Stad Ship Tunnel will reach a length of 1.7 km (1.05 miles), and measure 37 m (121 ft) tall and 26.5 m (87 ft) wide. It's expected to cost NOK 2.3 billion (over US$272 million) to build and won't actually speed up travel times, but instead focuses on making the journey safer. Top-tier architecture and design firm Snohetta has designed the entrances, and the company's early plans include sculpted tunnel openings and adding LED lighting on the tunnel ceiling.

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Norway Plans to Build the World's First Ship Tunnel

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  • Conversion typo (Score:5, Informative)

    by MonoSynth ( 323007 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2017 @03:06AM (#54079985) Homepage

    300 meters is 984 feet.

    • Why not use autonomous ships on the dangerous passage instead? Autonomous ships are expected in the next few years [ieee.org], even before autonomous cars. Granted, this would not solve the problem of transporting passengers safely, but it would mean much less concern for cargo shipments.

      That being said, a ship tunnel sounds like a cool idea.

      • by Shinobi ( 19308 )

        Because, as you say, it doesn't solve the passenger issue, and passenger routes are fairly common along the norwegian coast, due to much shorter routes than with strictly land-based transportation.

      • by IrquiM ( 471313 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2017 @06:12AM (#54080327) Homepage
        Losing an autonomous ship still means losing a ship. On a plus side, tourism!
      • by swb ( 14022 )

        Most boats down to even 10 meter recreational vessels already have pretty good autopilots, often integrating cartography, bathymetry and radar, but they don't always work that well in close approaches due to shifting channels, local currents and tides.

        Most ports have professional pilots that bring large ships into harbors because expertise is needed in those local features, and they might also require tugs, too, for precision movement.

      • by arglebargle_xiv ( 2212710 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2017 @07:41AM (#54080525)

        Why not use autonomous ships on the dangerous passage instead? Autonomous ships are expected in the next few years, even before autonomous cars.

        Only by people who are living in technology la-la land [theguardian.com] like the authors of the cited article. They're proposing transoceanic cargo vessels with no crew, because as everyone knows the only thing the crew needs to do is click OK for a mid-Atlantic course correction and the rest of the time they're sitting around doing nothing, since a ship runs itself and deals with every eventuality automatically.

      • Automated control doesn't prevent a boat from getting slapped around by rough water. When the boat pivots around center of mass, causing the deck to drop faster than the freely falling objects that weren't tied down, this can cause undue stress to the transported cargo. Second, one thing that's nice about staying on an inside passage is that the nearby land blocks wind. When you're bucking into the winds around a low, making two knots while running the engines as hard as you usually do making twelve knots
    • 300 meters is 984 feet.

      or 1.49 Furlongs

    • by arglebargle_xiv ( 2212710 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2017 @07:35AM (#54080517)

      For those who don't speak Norwegian, I've had the story translated into approximate Swedish as follows:

      Nurvey's must hezerduous sheepping ruoute-a pesses iruound zee-a cuountry's Sted peninsuola und hersh lucel veezeer meuons deleys und duongeruous cundeetiuns fur sheep cruos ire-a a reguoler ouccuorrence-a. Un imbeetiuous pluon ieems tu sulfe-a zees by buoildeeng zee-a vurld's furst sheep tuonnel ouff uny signiffeecuont size-a durectly thruough zee-a peninsuola, inebleeng sheeps tu trefel in seffety. Ve-a recently interfiuoed Sted Sheep Tuonnel Pruject Muoneger Terje-a Undreessee-a ibuout zee-a pruject. Bork Bork Bork!

      Not sure where all the sheep references came from, my translator is from Alingsås.

    • by OzPeter ( 195038 )

      300 meters is 984 feet.

      I'd love to know how this "typo" was produced. TFS looks like a simple cute and paste from TFA, yet the TFA has the correct number in it.

      NA: We'd usually expect a canal to be built for this kind of purpose, so why a tunnel?

      Because in this case we are crossing a hill which is more than 300 m (984 ft) high. The only alternative is a tunnel. From a maritime point of view this is still a canal, but with a "roof."

      It's almost as if the error was deliberately introduced.

    • Re:Conversion typo (Score:5, Informative)

      by crow ( 16139 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2017 @08:22AM (#54080665) Homepage Journal

      No. 300 meters is 1000 feet. Don't add significant digits.

  • Set it to Haste 2, and get a large chest of unbreakable 3, efficiency V diamond pickaxes!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Sure, having boats go through the tunnel is badass as long as it's not to the tune of "it's a small world after all", but things get even more interesting when we consider that tunnels of that scale will be exactly what we need to deploy the giant robots when the alien monsters come by.

  • ... just the first BIG ship tunnel as stated in TFA. For the first ship tunnel in Europe, they are a few centuries late: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
  • seems cheap (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gravewax ( 4772409 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2017 @03:44AM (#54080061)
    considering the scale of this project I am surprised the cost is only US$272 million, has technology to do this advanced that far or are the Norwegians just very efficient. hell a lot of large buildings cost considerable more than this
    • Re:seems cheap (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Stephan Schulz ( 948 ) <schulz@eprover.org> on Tuesday March 21, 2017 @04:43AM (#54080159) Homepage

      considering the scale of this project I am surprised the cost is only US$272 million, has technology to do this advanced that far or are the Norwegians just very efficient. hell a lot of large buildings cost considerable more than this

      Maybe they are good at doing this stuff, but maybe they use the by now "normal" process for public works: You lowball the cost to get the project going and then argue with the sunk money that you need to finish it at 3 times the expected price. If the tunnel is worth 272 million, it should still be worth 272 million to finish it after the first 200 million have been spent. After all, the money is gone, but the tunnel will still be the same, and half a tunnel has very limited use cases. Lather and repeat...

      Compare the F-35 development [wikipedia.org] or Germany's Berlin Brandenburg Airport [wikipedia.org].

      • Re:seems cheap (Score:5, Insightful)

        by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2017 @06:11AM (#54080319)
        The F-35 is not normal and is a very obvious symptom of overt government corruption IMHO. Lockheed is "special" - hookers and blow for the right people "special". It's so "special" it would make a Chinese Communist official laundering what he's siphoned off at Macao blush.
      • Re:seems cheap (Score:5, Interesting)

        by pr0t0 ( 216378 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2017 @07:45AM (#54080537)

        Could be. It could also be that in Norway, if you send out an RFP, the companies that respond are capable of doing the work.

        In the United States, if you send out an RFP, companies will respond that are actually unable to do the work but are happy to outsource it to someone else and add some percentage to the cost for the trouble. In fact, there may be times when the only companies even considered are ones that are incapable of doing it. As part of "The Fleecing of America" series on NBC, there was this coverage regarding the Hurricane Katrina clean up effort:

        Here's an example of how it worked: The Ashbritt company was paid $23 for every cubic yard of debris it removed. It in turn hired C&B Enterprises, which was paid $9 per cubic yard. That company hired Amlee Transportation, which was paid $8 per cubic yard. Amlee hired Chris Hessler Inc, which received $7 per cubic yard. Hessler, in turn, hired Les Nirdlinger, a debris hauler from New Jersey, who was paid $3 per cubic yard.

        That really happened, and I believe (based solely on the greed and ineptitude I witness daily) it continues to happen on most/all large-scale public works projects in the U.S. I don't know if that happens in Norway or not. If the tunnel was built in the U.S. using the example above, given an actual cost of building the tunnel at $272M, then the amount paid by the tax payers would be over $2 Billion. So that may be why it seems so low.

    • considering the scale of this project I am surprised the cost is only US$272 million, has technology to do this advanced that far or are the Norwegians just very efficient. hell a lot of large buildings cost considerable more than this

      The ore mined as part of building the tunnel is expected to defray some of the cost.

      • Ahhh that makes more sense then, otherwise the price seems ridiculously cheap as the movement of the rock/earth alone at that price would mean less than 10 cents a ton which just doesn't sound possible for even the most efficient of operations.
      • by Salgak1 ( 20136 )

        Ore ? Nothing in the article about any ore in the tunnel path. Of course, you could always gravel the tunneling output: gravel is used universally in construction, and would provide at least some payback for expenses. . . .

        • Unless, of course, it cost more to move the aggregate (gravel/ sand mix, for mixing with cement to make concrete) to it's destination than the stuff is worth. And there are a *lot* of aggregate deposits in Norway, thanks to all those glaciers and their nice efficient water flows for sorting the aggregate by size. Blasting debris typically has a very wide range of grain sizes - from boulders to dust - which hinders it's use for making concrete.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Norwegians has a lot of experience building tunnels due to the mountainous terrain. The number of road tunnels (for efficient transport as opposed to scenic routes) led to the mock slogan "Tourists - come see Norway - from the inside"

      Almost any whole-day roadtrip in Norway will take you through quite a few tunnels, unless you explicitly plan around them. As some claustrophobics do.

      • yes I know, I have been to Norway many times, still doing such an operation at less than 10 cents a ton for the movement of materials alone seems insanely cheap, unless as the other responder says the ore from the tunnel offsets the cost and the 272 million is just the extra they have to throw in.
      • Also, see the Bergen-Oslo railway.
    • Not much need for political pork in Norway.
    • considering the scale of this project I am surprised the cost is only US$272 million, has technology to do this advanced that far or are the Norwegians just very efficient. hell a lot of large buildings cost considerable more than this

      Simply blasting and moving rock by barge is not all that expensive. Of the original 5.25 Billion cost estimate for the Panama Canal expansion, nearly $3 Billion was set aside just for the Locks and they are largely responsible for the disputed, $1.7 Billion cost overrun as well. In traditional automotive tunnels, a large part of the budget is for connecting infrastructure to existing road networks as well as Ventilation and Fire Suppression systems, all of which is not a concern with this project

    • Re:seems cheap (Score:4, Informative)

      by SharpFang ( 651121 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2017 @08:38AM (#54080727) Homepage Journal

      Norwegian are efficient like hell in building tunnels.

      When motorways were built in Poland, a factoid made rounds: 1km of motorway in Poland costs as much as 1km of tunnel through sheer rock in Norway.

    • So the boston big dig is 3.5miles so about 3 times the length. Even in the beginning it was estimated to be 2.8billion (in 1982 dollars). So here we are in 2017 with a project 1/3 the size estimated to cost 1/10 the price. And the big dig went on to cost 14 billion. Its why I laugh when I hear local leaders saying they will put I-35 in a tunnel for 2 bil. Or why I laugh and continue to laugh at the clusterF they are doing on MOPAC. Its going to be 2 years late at least and some crazy amount over budget. Or

      • The problem is obvious: the US needs to hire Norwegian companies to do this work.

      • by olau ( 314197 )

        There's a huge difference between boring through dirt and clay, and blasting your way through rock. The latter material holds itself, so basically you just need to blast away and remove material, and you're done. With the former, there's a much more complicated process of putting in concrete reinforcements and dealing with underground water and whatnot.

      • So the boston big dig is 3.5miles so about 3 times the length.

        The Boston big dig has to avoid collapsing buildings above and beside the dig. That is somewhat less of a problem on any random hillside in Norway.

        Is that dig still going on? I remember it being a thorough-going row last time I was in America - '90 or '91.

    • by DrXym ( 126579 )
      Maybe blasting a mile long tunnel in a straight, horizontal line through rock without worrying about a city over the top is a relatively straightforward operation. Biggest issue I guess would be digging out the ends and disposing of the rock somewhere.
  • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2017 @03:48AM (#54080071) Homepage

    Because of all the fjords [wikipedia.org] any land road needs lots of tunnels, bridges and taking long detours inland, so travel by sea makes a lot of sense. Stad has been a major chokepoint because it's very exposed [demo1.no] and has an underwater topology that creates huge waves, blocking all north-south traffic in bad weather. The value of reliability is hard to properly get into an economic model, but you probably wouldn't use a way to get to work that only got you there 95% of the time. This would allow you to rely on sea traffic being far more punctual than before all year long.

    • by Shinobi ( 19308 )

      I think an example is in order to highlight this:

      Fresh fish is sent by rail through Sweden, along the coastal rail route on the east, from the northern parts of Norway to Oslo in the south. Because that's faster than doing it along their own railways or highways.

      • by aliquis ( 678370 )

        I think an example is in order to highlight this:

        Fresh fish is sent by rail through Sweden, along the coastal rail route on the east, from the northern parts of Norway to Oslo in the south. Because that's faster than doing it along their own railways or highways.

        Also because "why do it yourself when you can have a Swede do it?" / all the rich Norwegians. ;D

        • by Shinobi ( 19308 )

          Actually, in this case this has nothing to do with it. It's just faster to have the norwegian trains go through Sweden, even when it travels along our east coast

        • by aliquis ( 678370 )

          Speculative chain who does what for whom:

          Norwegians use Swedes.
          Swedes use Poles.
          Poles use ... Romanians?
          Romanians use animals.

          I never really see what's the problem with such an outcome except in the case of the animals because they haven't chosen to agree upon it. But I know some have a problem with it.

      • Because that's faster than doing it along their own railways or highways.

        What I want to know is how that can be cheaper than building a port, and a smaller tunnel for a train. That's a lot of rock to remove.

        • by Shinobi ( 19308 )

          They already have the ports. With a tunnel for trains, you'll eventually also end up building bridges etc.

    • Because of all the fjords [wikipedia.org]

      Oh, how I pine for them.

    • The way I see it, you've got lots of tall mountains and lots of deep fjords. So why not just dynamite all the mountains, fill up the fjords, and turn Norway into Holland so you can cycle everywhere?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 21, 2017 @04:25AM (#54080139)

    For exemple the Rove Tunnel in France : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rove_Tunnel
    2.3 billions m3 build in 1927

  • by Terje Mathisen ( 128806 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2017 @05:03AM (#54080197)

    As Kjella writes in another post, this particular area is the single worst weather hurdle along the entire Norwegian coast, and we do have a lot of coastline:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    I.e. significantly longer than the US even when you include Alaska, this meant that sea travel was by far the most important transportation network here at least since the vikings.

    It is somewhat telling that the coastal route around the country (where the Hurtigruten goes between Bergen and Kirkenes, taking 11 days for the round trip) is considered "highway 1", our road system numbering therefore starts with highway 2.

    The english wikipedia article about this project is somewhat short but still pretty good, mentioning that the first proposal came in 1874.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    Terje

    • by Anubis IV ( 1279820 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2017 @01:06PM (#54082535)

      I.e. significantly longer than the US

      I couldn't help but following your link after you said that, since it's one of those, "I knew Norway had a lot of coast, but THAT much?!" moments for me. I did want to point out that the numbers even at the link you shared are a bit incongruous, since they seem to vary quite a bit from source to source based on how they define a coast or shore (e.g. do they include freshwater or inland bodies of water? if they're measuring the actual coast (as opposed to the boundary of jurisdictional waters), are they measuring to a particular depth of tidal water, or are they measuring the shore as it's represented on a map? are overseas territories included in the country's total? ). For instance, here are some official numbers, most of which were pulled from the Wikipedia article you linked (I also grabbed numbers from other sources I've linked):

      Norway's coast:
      25,148 km (World Factbook) or 53,199 km (World Resources Institute) or 125,225 km (Statistics Norway) [www.ssb.no]

      USA's coast:
      19,924 km (World Factbook) or 133,312 km (World Resources Institute) or 153,646 km (NOAA) [noaa.gov]

      All of which is to say, while I can't say with any certainty which has the longer coastline (not that it matters), it's indisputable that the overall point you were driving at--that Norway has a LOT of coast (particularly given its size) and that it impacts things in all sorts of ways that most of us may be unaware of--is both correct and inherently fascinating. Thanks for sharing the info!

      ADDENDA:
      In case you're curious about the massive differences in the numbers...

      The World Resource Institute's dataset was designed to be used for comparisons between countries [archive.org]. They talk at that link about the difficulty in producing useful numbers and in comparing numbers from different sources. To get around most of the issues they identified, they used a vectorization of the coastlines at a constant resolution (to ensure that no country benefitted from having a more detailed mapping than other countries) and didn't include overseas territories. As such, theirs are useful approximations for the purpose of comparisons and are relatively accurate as far as these sorts of measurements go, but for coastlines with lots of nooks and crannies (e.g. Norway's), their approximations may have a greater degree of error than they would for locations with simpler coastlines.

      NOAA and Statistics Norway are, I believe, both official organizations, but I wasn't able to find much about the methodology that either used. NOAA mentions that it includes outlying territories, so that immediately inflates their numbers a bit. They also include the shorelines of the Great Lakes, which makes some sense given that they are boundary waters between the US and Canada, but some people may question their inclusion. Either way, it's probably safe to say that both NOAA and Statistics Norway are working with highly detailed maps when making their measurements, so they're likely to be closer to the true numbers than the World Resource Institute's, though it's difficult to compare them without adjusting for differences in methodology.

      As for the CIA World Factbook, they don't list their methodology in a place I could find, but it's pretty clear from their numbers for landlocked countries that they're not including inland bodies of water. Given how much lower their numbers are than everyone else's, I'd wager they were calculated at a low resolution, or else they may simply measure at a set distance from the shore, effectively decreasing the resolution of their measurements significantly.

      At the end of the day, it looks like the US' coastline may be slightly longer, but the country also benefits from being significantly larger. Ba

  • by Anonymous Coward

    First of what ?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Q3uHv_DRbA

  • 300 meters is not 384 ft. It's about 984 ft.

    • by crow ( 16139 )

      And they're both wrong because the original has only one significant digit, so the conversion shouldn't add false precision. The correct conversion is "about a thousand feet."

  • Not a single Jules Verne reference?!?!?!?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    World's first ship tunnel. But what world? The modern world? I ask because some 25 kilometer from where I live there is a ship tunnel that was build in the middle ages. It connected two larger rivers and made east - west travel possible, opening the energy, wood and iron markets of the east for the western coastal cities who traded with the rest of the known world. It is still a tourist attraction after 1,200 years. And this wasn't the only one that was build back then in the 'dark ages', but it is the olde

    • Do you have citations for these? The maze thing is especially interesting.

      But your Middle Ages "ship tunnel" sounds like a canal tunnel to me, not a ship tunnel (capable of passing a modern seagoing ship). Canal tunnels have been around for centuries; Britain is full of them. Yours is certainly older than those, but no one said this proposed Norwegian tunnel was the first-ever tunnel for watercraft.

  • I hope they plan a good light show inside the tunnel. And audio, it must have audio:

    There's no earthly way of knowing
    Which direction we are going.
    There's no knowing where we're rowing
    Or which way the river's flowing.
    Is it raining?
    Is it snowing?
    Is a hurricane a blowing?

    Not a speck of light is showing
    so the danger must be growing.
    Are the fires of hell a glowing?
    Is the grisly reaper mowing?
    Yes! The danger must be growing
    For the rowers keep on rowing. And they're certainly not showing
    any signs that they are sl

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] Brunel did this in 1838, though smaller. How is this the world's first?
  • Well, in France, they built one in 1775, with a length of 3333 Meters and it's still used to this very day.

    https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

  • Er ner, I herv brerken the terp of the merst erf!

    Yer sherd herv werterd fer the terd ter ger ert.

  • by coughfeeman ( 608160 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2017 @12:31PM (#54082155)

    I really hope they don't pass up the opportunity to make it look like an ancient artifact of Norse mythology; like straight up Gates of Argonath shit.

    Or at least make it totally metal, like it was designed by Dethklok.

    Come on Norway, gotta represent.

  • Some people might say Norway is boring.
  • ??? No one has mentioned the obvious? Should the estimates of sea level increases be accurate, which I believe them to be, in a few years, the only way for that tunnel to still be of use is if they gouge out much of its roof.

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