A new all-year highway across Kjölur in the Icelandic highlands is being planned as a private project. The road, which is scheduled to open in three years, could shorten the distance between south and north Iceland by close to 200 km.
Iceland’s Ministry of Transport has given the Iceland Road Administration permission to start cooperating with private company Nordurvegur ehf. for a detailed estimation of the operations. RÚV reports.
With the new road the distance between Reykjavík and Akureyri would be 341 km, 47 km shorter than the current driving distance. The distance between Selfoss and Akureyri would be shortened by 141 km, down to a total of 289 km.
Reportedly, the weather conditions at Kjölur are not worse than in Mödrudalsöraefi highlands in northeast Iceland, though heavier snowfall is expected. However, the road would be continually cleared and kept open all year round.
The road is scheduled to be finished by 2010. Halldór Jóhannsson, CEO of Nordurvegur, told RÚV the next step is to reach an agreement with other parties who would participate in the project and evaluate the effects of the new road on the environment.
The project is estimated to cost ISK 4.2 billion (EUR 47 million, USD 61 million), which Nordurvegur would earn back with a road fee. Motorists would have to pay a fee of ISK 2,000 (EUR 22, USD 29) or ISK 8,000 (EUR 90, USD 117), depending on the weight of their vehicles.
Since the Icelandic settlement in 874 and until automobiles were introduced in Iceland in the early 20th century, the road across Kjölur was the most common trail for people traveling between the south to the north of the country.