Work Group to Submit Report on Reykjanesbraut Closure

Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson

A work group appointed by Minister Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson to review the closure of Reykjanesbraut in December is expected to submit a draft plan to the Ministry of Infrastructure next week, Mbl.is reports. The closure of Reykjanesbraut led to numerous flight cancellations and delays.

Reykjanesbraut closure leads to flight cancellations, delays

Following heavy snow in the capital area during the days leading up to Christmas, Reykjanesbraut – the road leading to Keflavík Airport – became impassable. The closure led to numerous flight delays and cancellations, with many travellers expressing their criticism of the Icelandic authorities.

Speaking to Mbl.is in December, Minister of Infrastructure Sigurður Ingi Jóhannson stated that the situation was unacceptable: “I have to say, right now, we have to get over this and ensure, as far as that’s possible, that Reykjanesbraut is not closed while the airport is open.”

Sigurður Ingi subsequently appointed a work group composed of representatives from the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration, the National Police Commissioner, and the Suðurnes police chief. The work group was tasked with reviewing the events in December and drafting a plan on how best to deal with similar situations.

“We are working hard on the report in collaboration with these groups,” Hjördís Guðmundsdóttir, Director of Communications for the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management, told Mbl.is this morning. The work group is expected to submit its report on Tuesday, January 10.

“We scrutinise everything we do, so it’s natural for us to scrutinise this,” she added.

Local Man Clears Road Ensuring Mates Can Fly Abroad

winter tires reykjavík

Hoping to aid his friends and colleagues escape the harsh Icelandic winter, Finnur Aðalbjörnsson refused to let an impassable road stand in his way, Vísir reports. A storm has battered many parts of Iceland recently.

Independent People

When it became evident that his friends and colleagues would be unable to leave Akureyri for Keflavík Airport on Wednesday – as the road through Öxnadalsheiði had become impassable – local man Finnur Aðalbjörnsson decided to clear the way himself. Operating a four-hundred horsepower Fendt tractor equipped with a snowblower, Finnur left home at 6 pm Wednesday afternoon. His friends followed in four cars. Some of them were headed to Birmingham; others planned to attend the 2020 European Men’s Handball Championship.

No Stranger to Snow

No stranger to snow, Finnur is the owner of an eponymous contracting company that rents out machinery and regularly clears snow. Wanting to help his friends and employees, he contacted the Public Roads Administration. His plan was well received. Speaking to RÚV yesterday, Sigurður Jónsson, Head Supervisor at the Public Roads Administration in Akureyri, maintains that this is the first time that such a request has been made.

According to Finnur, conditions on Öxnadalsheiði were as bad they had ever been, with plenty of hardened snow.

“I know the guys who clear the road, but they had been told to suspend their efforts owing to the bad weather. I spoke to them, of course, too; I didn’t want to inconvenience them or the Public Roads Administration. They were fine with it,” Finnur stated.

Come One, Come All

Despite challenging conditions, clearing the road went well. Before long, the number of cars following in Finnur’s wake had multiplied significantly. When he finally made it across the mountain road, he observed a caravan of 23 cars behind him.

“I had only planned on helping those four cars across, you know,” Finnur said.

It took Finnur roughly four and a half hours to traverse the road the first time. He turned around in Skagafjörður and seven cars followed him back north.

“The drive back was much quicker, as I had already cleared the road once. Even though the road had once again become snowed in, the snow was much lighter the second time.”

(Click here to see a video that Hrólfur Arnar Sumarliðason captured, following in Finnur’s tracks.)

Leave No Man Behind

According to Finnur, most of the cars that followed him were well equipped to handle conditions on the road. There was, however, a slight problem with one car: a two-wheel drive vehicle that accompanied him on the way back.

“He kept getting stuck, even though I had already cleared the road. He couldn’t see and kept going off track. We needed to assist him many times along the way. We couldn’t leave him, of course.”

Nine Hours Later

Finnur estimates that he arrived to Akureyri at roughly 3 am Thursday morning, nine hours after leaving home. Asked whether he could imagine clearing the road again, Finnur responded in the affirmative:

“Yes, yes, yes. A little adventure is always good, man. Nobody wants to sit home and watch TV or DVDs every night. That kind of things becomes tiresome.”

RÚV broke the story yesterday.