“Constant tunnel construction should be our goal – so that when the next tunnel is completed then work on another one will begin,” said prime minister Halldór Ágrímsson at a public Progressive Party meeting last Friday in Akureyri. “A few years ago we would have thought such unimaginable but now it is reality,” explained Halldór.
Halldór said that next year work on the Hédinsfjördur tunnel between Siglufjordur [pop. 1600 – the northernmost town in Iceland], and Ólafsfjordur [pop. 1100] will begin. He said that the Hédinsfjördur tunnel was controversial but necessary – it joined a large area and ideas were aloft on making it one big community.
Hédinsfjördur lies in between Siglufjördur and Ólafsfjördur. It has been uninhabited for several decades but has gained popularity among recreational travelers over the past few years.
Because of its rugged and relatively pristine nature, many consider Hédinsfjördur one of the most beautiful destinations on Iceland’s northern coast.
Currently, there is no road into Hédinsfjördur. Earlier this year, former MP and current mayor of Kópavogur, Dr. Gunnar Birgisson, an engineer with extensive experience of road construction, criticized the Hédinsfjördur tunnel as being prohibitively expensive and advocated a less costly alternative for linking the towns of Siglufjördur and Ólafsfjördur by taking a route to the south of Hédinsfjördur that would bypass the fjord entirely.
“I am all for building a bigger community,” said Halldór. “Because we need to strengthen Iceland’s local government, we need to give them more projects. And thereby increase the power of the people, so that people solve matters on the local level.”
Halldór continued to say that the large amounts of financing going into transportation infrastructure make it possible for this trend to continue.
Last Wednesday the Icelandic government announced plans to allocate ISK 15 billion of the Iceland telco money into transportation related projects. According to the Ministry of Communications and Transportation, the Hédinsfjördur tunnel is expected to cost ISK 7 billion.
Halldór concluded by saying, “We are few and live in a big country, we need to strengthen the communication between us, that is the future.”
Support for the Progressive Party measured in at 8.7% at the beginning of July while support for the Progressive Party was 3.9% in Reykjavík, the lowest it has ever measured in the capital.