Reconstruction of the Coastal Highway Route E39 is not only Norway’s biggest ever infrastructure project – but the Rogfast Tunnel, of which it is part, will be the world’s longest and deepest underwater highway. With a depth of up to 392 meters below sea level, this pioneering project is the eighth exciting installment in Volvo Construction Equipment’s (Volvo CE) Megaproject Listing.
Using new bridge and tunnel building techniques and set to cut travel times in half, the complete reconstruction of the E39, along the West Coast of Norway, is at the center of a new series of films launched today – putting the people and machines behind this innovative project in the spotlight.
Norway is well-known for its breathtaking coastline, with high mountains and deep fjords. But there’s a downside to this spectacular landscape. At the moment, the Coastal Highway Route E39 between Kristiansand in the south and Trondheim in the north is a journey of around 21 hours. Yet about a third of Norway’s 5.3 million people live along this highway, which is also an important trade route for Norwegian businesses, as some 60% of the country’s export goods are produced on the West Coast. In addition, when the E39 leaves Norway it proceeds to Denmark, making it an important entry point to the rest of Europe.
And if – like Håvard Langåker, a truck driver for Vassbakk & Stol – your job means driving this stretch of coastline, then things can be hard. “I go and get the rocks at the construction site and then I drive it to the other sites in need of material,” explains Langåker. “On the road I need to wait for ferries, stand in ferry lines, deal with cancelled ferries and narrow roads. We have island and fjords with roads which follow the coastline. It takes the longest way, not the shortest, therefore it is quite time consuming.” But all this is about to change.
Costing US$39 billion, the reconstructed Coastal Highway Route E39 will reduce the journey time between Trondheim and Kristainsand from 20 hours to just 11. And the Rogfast Tunnel, set to be complete in 2026, is a big part of this improvement. Set to be the longest and deepest subsea road tunnel in the world, it will stretch 27 kilometers in length and 392 meters below sea level at its deepest point.
But building tunnels at this depth poses a challenge. In order to make the journey as safe as possible for road users, construction will include the building of two separate tunnels for traffic flow. In addition, every 250 meters will be passages that connect the two tunnels, allowing for a quick and easy exit in case of emergencies.
Volvo CE will be showcasing its role in this innovative project as part of the latest installment of the award-winning Megaproject Listing. Tiffany Cheng, Global Director, External Communications, at Volvo CE, says: “When complete, this tunnel will make the lives of people who live and work in Norway and beyond that much easier. To be a part of this exceptional project, and to have a role in improving access through this beautiful corner of the world, is a real point of pride for us at Volvo CE.”