Toll Introduced in Vaðlaheiðargöng Tunnel

Vaðlaheiðargöng tunnel

As of today, drivers passing through Vaðlaheiðargöng tunnel in North Iceland will pay a toll of ISK 700 to 6,000 ($6-50/€5-45), RÚV reports. The standard toll for a passenger vehicle is set at ISK 1,500, while it stands at ISK 6,000 for larger transport vehicles and trucks. Frequent drivers along the route, however, have the option of purchasing 10, 40, or 100 trips in a discounted package.

Vaðlaheiðargöng tunnel is 7.4km (4.6mi) long and lies between Akureyri and Húsavík, in North Iceland. It was officially opened on December 21, two years after it was originally scheduled to be completed. It shortens the Ring Road by 16 kilometres. The project has been controversial due to years of delays and a budget that exceeded its projected cost by over 44%.

Toll paid online

The tunnel toll cannot be paid physically on location. Drivers can instead pay for a single trip online or register to be automatically charged for their trip to a card or bank account. The toll must be paid within three hours of travelling through the tunnel, otherwise it will be charged to the individual under whose name the vehicle is registered, with an additional ISK 1,000 charge. Vehicles with foreign plates can also be registered on the toll website.

President Invests 14 with Order of the Falcon

Order of the Falcon

President of Iceland Guðni Th. Jóhannesson invested 14 Icelanders with the Order of the Falcon yesterday for their contributions to Icelandic culture and society. RÚV reported first. Among the group were pop star Páll Óskar and comedian and entertainer Þórhallur Sigurðsson, known as Laddi.

The President of Iceland invests Icelandic citizens with the Order of the Falcon twice a year, on January 1 and June 17. A list of the individuals who received the recognition yesterday follows.

  1. Agnes Anna Sigurðardóttir Managing Director, for contributions to the development of business in her local community of Dalvík.
  2. Árni Magnússon, former school principal, for contributions to school and social issues.
  3. Professor Björg Thorarensen, for teaching and research in the field of law.
  4. CEO Georg Lárusson, for public service.
  5. Guðríður Ólafs Ólafíudóttir, former chairperson of Sjálfsbjargar, for contributions to welfare and humanitarian affairs.
  6. Archaeologist Guðrún Sveinbjarnardóttir, for contributions to archaeological research.
  7. Haraldur Briem, former Chief Epidemiologist, for contributions to public health and healthcare.
  8. Kristín Aðalsteinsdóttir former professor, for contributions to pedagogy.
  9. Margrét Frímannsdóttir, former member of parliament, for public service.
  10. Musician Páll Óskar Hjálmtýsson, for contributions to Icelandic music and equality issues.
  11. Supreme Court Attorney Ragnar Aðalsteinsson, for contributions to human rights and rights activism.
  12. Tómas Knútsson, mechanical engineer and founder of the “Blue Army,” for contributions to environmental conservation.
  13. Filmmaker Valdís Óskarsdóttir, for contributions to Icelandic and international filmmaking.
  14. Actor and musician Þórhallur Sigurðsson, for contributions to Icelandic culture.

Less Pollution from Fireworks This Year

Reykjavík New Year's Eve Fireworks

Particulate pollution from fireworks was significantly lower on New Year’s Day in Reykjavík this year than last, RÚV reports. While levels up to 4,600 micrograms per square metre were measured early on January 1, 2018, the highest measurements this year were only 1,600 micrograms. Þorsteinn Jóhannsson of the Environment Agency of Iceland’s climate department says a light breeze is to thank for the difference.

“It’s just the weather in itself that determines it,” Þorsteinn remarked. “There was a certain south or southeast wind blowing at two or three metres per second. Though that wasn’t much wind, it was enough to clear the air.” Þorsteinn added that along with pollution levels being lower, the particulate matter stuck around for much shorter this year than last. “It was mostly over by two or three [in the morning].”

Fireworks and ICE-SAR funding

Last year, windless weather on New Year’s Eve meant particulate pollution released by fireworks reached high levels – and stuck around. Increased awareness of pollution has sinced turned many locals off of the idea of setting off rockets, with around 50% saying they support a limit or ban on the sale of fireworks.

Firework sales leading up to New Year’s Eve are a significant source of funding for ICE-SAR, Iceland’s largely volunteer-run search and rescue organisation. This year, the organisation decided to sell seedlings as well, in a joint fundraising effort with the Icelandic Forest Service. It is not yet clear, however, whether the initiative led to lower sales of fireworks. “The weather is the main factor,” Þorsteinn insists. “My feeling was that there were not fewer fireworks.”