The Dýrafjarðargöng tunnel was formally opened yesterday following a three-year construction period. The tunnel is 5.6km (3.4mi) long and shortens the route connecting the northern and southern Westfjords by 27.4 kilometres. Dýrafjarðargöng replaces a mountain pass over Hrafnseyrarheiði that impassable for much of the year due to snow and weather conditions.
Residents of the area have been waiting for the tunnel expectantly for years. In 2010, schoolchildren from the nearby town of Þingeyri “broke ground” for the project, though its official construction did not begin until 2017.
RÚV reports that it was students from the Þingeyri primary school that were the first to traverse the tunnel when it opened yesterday, as well as Gunnar Gísli Sigurðsson, who has ploughed the Hrafseyrarheiði road that it is replacing since 1974. Gunnar celebrated the tunnel’s opening and said he wouldn’t miss his winter job. “It’s a good feeling. It was high time.”
The tunnel is a big step toward ensuring safe, year-round routes between towns of the Westfjords.