If you’ve been keeping up with Tunnel Insider, by now, you should already know what the longest rail tunnel in the world is. However, have you ever thought about what the longest road tunnel in the world is?
We wondered that as well, so we decided to find out! Off the bat, if we had to guess where the tunnel would be located, we’d probably have to say that it’s somewhere in Europe.
And guess what? It is located in Europe! That’s right folks, the longest road tunnel is in Norway and its called the Lærdal Tunnel (Norwegian: Lærdalstunnelen).
The tunnel is 15.23 miles (24.51 km) long and connects Lærdal and Aurland in Sogn og Fjordane, Norway and is located approximately 109–124 miles (175–200 km) north-east of Bergen.
The tunnel carries two lanes of European Route E16 and represents the final link on the new main highway connecting Oslo and Bergen without ferry connections and difficult mountain crossings during winter.
The construction for the tunnel started back in 1995 and opened for service in 2000. A total of 3,300,000 cubic yards (2,500,000 cubic meters) of rock was removed during construction and building costs totaled about $113.1M USD which is 1.082 billion Norwegian krone. That’s chump change according to Elon Musk who’s currently projecting $10M per mile to build his tunnels in Los Angeles; a dollar figure substantially less than what other are building tunnels in US for.
According to Wikipedia, the design of the tunnel took into consideration the mental strain on the drivers, so it was divided into four sections, separated by three large mountain caves at 3.7 miles (6 km) intervals.
In addition, the main tunnel has white lights while the caves have blue lighting with yellow lights at the edges to give an impression of sunrise which is supposed to provide a refreshing view and allow drivers to take a short rest.
The caves are also used as turnaround points as well as for break areas to help lift claustrophobia during the 20-minute drive. The tunnel has a sign on every kilometer indicating how many kilometers have been driven and how many kilometers are left to drive and each lane is supplied with a loud rumble strip towards the center to aid in keeping the drivers attention.
Below is a picture inside the tunnel of one of the three 30 meter wide mountain halls. For some reason, the walls kind of reminds us of the Matterhorn ride at Disneyland; just much, much bigger!
In case of accidents or fires, interestingly enough, the tunnel does not have any emergency exits but it does have fire extinguishers placed every 140 feet (125 meters) and emergency phones marked with “SOS” every 820 feet (250 meters) which contact the local authorities.
Despite not having any emergency exits, it is the first tunnel in the world to be equipped with a specialized air treatment plant
designed to maintain air quality via a massive ventilation and purification system!
Nevertheless, driving through the tunnel would be interesting, more so because of the blue and white lights. So, the next time you’re in Norway and you’re bored, we dare you to hitchhike your way to the tunnel and drive thorough it, take some pics and send them to us. Capeesh?
If you’ve driven through the tunnel, we’d love to hear about it; feel free to share your thoughts and comment below!