Alþingi, the Icelandic parliament, agreed to changes to the transport plan on Tuesday, including three tunnels. A tunnel through Vaðlaheiði in north Iceland had already been approved; the others are by Dýrafjörður in the West Fjords and Norðfjörður in the east.
Tunnel construction in the East Fjords. Archive photo by Páll Stefánsson.
The Dýrafjörður tunnel will be expedited by three years with constructions scheduled to start in 2015. The Norðfjörður tunnel will not be postponed as had been discussed and constructions are now scheduled to start next year, ruv.is reports.
Inhabitants of the Fjarðabyggð municipality in east Iceland had protested the delay of the Norðfjörður tunnel, handing over a petition of more than 3,000 signatures to the Ministry of the Interior.
Mayor of Fjarðabyggð Páll Björgvin Guðmundsson attributed the conclusion to the solidarity and fighting spirit of locals, who are extremely satisfied with having achieved their goal, he stated.
“We have waited a long time. Now we can guarantee the safety of commuters here and complete the merging process of municipalities in the region. A merge which began in 2006,” Páll Björgvin said.
The budget for 2013 has yet to be completed. According to the transport plan, ISK 1.2 billion (USD 9.6 million, EUR 7.6 million) are to be attributed to the Norðfjörður tunnel in 2013 and ISK 2.5 billion in 2014. The total cost of the project is estimated at ISK 10.5 billion (USD 83.7 million, EUR 66.1 million).
The government’s leaders, Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir and Minister of Economic Affairs Steingrímur J. Sigfússon, said in a statement that the project will be funded with the fishing tariffs the parliament accepted before going on summer vacation.