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Old November 23rd, 2009, 03:55 PM   #1
Bjarki
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═SLAND | Innvi­ir | Infrastructure

Here is a new thread for showcasing Icelandic infrastructure projects. Roads, ports, airports, energy infrastructure, heavy industry etc. can be discussed here.

The first project to be presented in this thread is the ferry harbor Landeyjah÷fn, that is currently under construction.

---

Landeyjah÷fn.
What: A ferry harbour on the south coast of Iceland.
Why: To shorten the ferry trip between Vestmannaeyjar and the Icelandic mainland.
When: Construction started in 2008 and the harbor should be ready for use in mid-2010.
Cost: 3.5 billion ISK.

Landeyjah÷fn is the largest infrastructure project that is currently going on in Iceland, excluding tunneling projects. The purpose is to better connect the island town of Vestmannaeyjar to the rest of the country. Vestmannaeyjar is a town of 4000 people which is quite large in Icelandic context and one of the largest towns outside the southwestern corner of the country. So far, the island has been connected to the mainland by a ferry that runs to the town of Ůorlßksh÷fn. That ferry route is over 70 km long and takes 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete. The route is also not like your typical ferry ride in the Baltic or Kattegat, it's basically in the open North Atlantic ocean which means that the seas can be very rough. The supplied vomit bags are there for a reason. When one looks at the geography, it begs the question why the islanders aren't spared this torture by taking a much shorter route to the mainland, it is after all only 11 km away. That's because the southern coast of Iceland is very much unlike the rest of the coastline in that it is a sandy beach with no natural harbors all the way from (the previously mentioned) Ůorlßksh÷fn in the west to H÷fn in the extreme southeast. Both of these places incorporate the word harbor, h÷fn, in their names which shows just how important that feature was considered.

So it was not until this century that it was seriously proposed to make a man-made harbor on the coast near Vestmannaeyjar. Many people were skeptical about the whole enterprise and claimed that the harbor would not survive the first winter before it would be completely devoured by the forces of nature. The project has so far gone better than planned so these doomsday-sayers are not as loud as they were at first. When finished, the new ferry will take only 30 minutes to complete the journey. The islanders are hoping for many economic opportunities following the ferry, especially regarding tourism. The nearby communities on the mainland should also benefit since they will suddenly gain 4000 new neighbours overnight.

The project basically involves the following components:
A) Two 600 meter long breakwaters made from rocks that extend into the ocean and close off the inner harbor.
B) Deepening a trench from the ferry terminal to the opening between the breakwaters.
C) A 12 km long road, connecting the ferry terminal to the "ring road".
D) The ferry terminal building and the quay where the ferry docks.
E) A 3 km long flooding barrier along the river Markarfljˇt just to the east of the harbor site. Markarfljˇt is a glacial river that can get some pretty violent floods. The area is very flat so if the river is not shielded against, it could flood the whole harbor area as well as the road leading to it.
F) Covering about 8 square km of nearby sands with vegetation. This is very important because if these black sands are left untouched, heavy sandstorms would be a regular happening at the harbor. These sandstorms easily destroy the paint on any vehicle that goes through them. The vegetation cover is provided by the grass species leymus arenarius which is the only known plant that can grow in these sands.



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Old November 23rd, 2009, 09:23 PM   #2
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Nice presentation! And an interesting tread to follow.
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Old November 24th, 2009, 03:07 AM   #3
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Thanks. It could be added that Vestmannaeyjar is the site for the annual festival Ůjˇ­hßtÝ­ that takes place every year during the first weekend of august. The festival dates back to 1874 but became a national attraction during the latter half of the 20th century when the nation's youth started to flock there, 10-15 thousand people in the latest years. It's basically a three day drinking & screwing binge where Iceland's most celebrated pop musicians perform. With the new ferry harbor and the easier access to the island, the planners of the festival worry that the attendance might grow out of control so they will probably impose a limit on the number of tickets sold for the first time.

So you see this is no regular, boring piece of infrastructure but actually a vital party-enabling thing that will allow many more young Icelanders to get completely sh*tfaced and wild like their viking ancestors.

Last edited by Bjarki; November 24th, 2009 at 04:28 AM.
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Old November 30th, 2009, 12:21 AM   #4
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What kind of ferries will run here? (since 11km in 30min is quite fast to what i am used to)

And how many vehicles are expected to use the ferries yearly?

Btw, great thread!
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Old November 30th, 2009, 11:59 AM   #5
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This is an intersting project. Heimaey is an interesting place which so far have been fairly difficult to reach. Is there any environmental concerns regarding the project? Is the sea outside just outside the sands deep enough for traditional ferries?
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Old December 1st, 2009, 01:56 AM   #6
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Thanks for the comments!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ůrˇndeimr View Post
What kind of ferries will run here? (since 11km in 30min is quite fast to what i am used to)
The project report assumes a cruising speed of 15 knots. I don't know how fast that is in ferry context but it is about the same speed as the current ferry.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ůrˇndeimr View Post
And how many vehicles are expected to use the ferries yearly?
The predicted number of vehicles at the opening of the new ferry harbor is 201 passenger cars and other small vehicles and 13 large vehicles per day. 78110 vehicles total per year. 738 passengers per day are predicted.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 54░26′S 3░24′E View Post
Is there any environmental concerns regarding the project?
Not about the harbor as such. The rocks for the breakwaters are taken from quarries in a nearby mountain which is slightly controversial since it is close to a sensitive area. The fact that the project involves binding large areas of barren sands with vegetation is considered a positive environmental side effect. The Soil Conservation Service (a government agency that fights desertification) had actually been trying to do something like this on its own before the harbor came along.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 54░26′S 3░24′E View Post
Is the sea outside just outside the sands deep enough for traditional ferries?
The depth of the harbor itself and the sea just outside it is in the range of 5.5 to 7 meters which is enough for most vessels of the size that the new ferry should be. A few hundred meters away from the harbor there is a sand reef where the sea becomes shallower again. It is constantly shifting around with the sea currents so it needs to be monitored and maybe deepened occasionally.
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Old January 29th, 2010, 12:48 AM   #7
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Icelandic Infrastructure ľ Extreme Pork Edition

HÚ­insfjar­arg÷ng (HÚ­insfj÷r­ur Tunnels)
What: A road link connecting two towns in northern Iceland involving two tunnels.
Why: To shorten the distance between the towns of Ëlafsfj÷r­ur and Siglufj÷r­ur from 62 km (summer) or 234 km (winter) down to 15 km (all seasons).
When: Construction started in May 2006 and the tunnels are projected to be opened in September 2010.
Cost: Originally estimated at 7 billion ISK but will probably exceed 9 or even 10 billion.

HÚ­insfjar­arg÷ng is quite simply the largest single infrastructure project ever to be built in Iceland (KeflavÝk International Airport may have been more expensive but the cost was payed by Uncle Sam during the Cold War). It involves a 3.7 km long tunnel from Siglufj÷r­ur to HÚ­insfj÷r­ur and a 6.9 km long tunnel from HÚ­insfj÷r­ur to Ëlafsfj÷r­ur. It also involves the laying of 3.2 km of new roads connecting the towns to the tunnels and the tunnels to each other. HÚ­insfj÷r­ur (from which the tunnels get their name) is an uninhabited fjord between Siglufj÷r­ur and Ëlafsfj÷r­ur where no roads existed before. Both of the tunnels have two traffic lanes.




This also the most controversial piece of infrastructure that I remember because it is perceived as a prime example of pork barrel spending by rural politicians benefitting only a few people at a great cost. The town of Siglufj÷r­ur has about 1300 people and Ëlafsfj÷r­ur about 800 people. Combined these towns make up 0,7% of the population of Iceland and those are the only ones that stand to benefit from the project. These tunnels will not serve any greater good beyond those towns because they are to far out of the way for most people. I myself am born and raised in Akureyri, not far from these towns, and I currently live in ═safj÷r­ur which is another remote small town. I like to think that I have a good understanding of the need that people in those communities have for improved roads, it is a matter of survival for them. But I still can not justify for myself the insane amounts that are being spent on HÚ­insfjar­arg÷ng, the priorities are all wrong. If it had been decided in 2006 to spend nine billion ISK on the road between ReykjavÝk and Selfoss instead, we would now have a near-motorway standard road there with completely separated traffic in opposite directions. It would have saved a lot of money in the long run through fewer and less serious accidents as well as preventing injuries and deaths. Instead we get tunnels that allow mere 2000 people to visit each other more frequently. I almost makes my blood boil when I think about this...



Even if we push the issue of cost and priorities aside, this project does not make sense. Two small towns will be connected with each other by a great modern road designed by the latest safety standards and such (and expected to be used by 2-300 vehicles per day) while both of the towns will still have substandard and hazardous connections with the outside world. The connections from Siglufj÷r­ur to the west and from Ëlafsfj÷r­ur to the east both rely on very narrow single lane tunnels and roads clinging to steep mountainsides where there is a risk of avalanches in winter and rockfall the whole year around. Surely it would have made more sense to focus on traffic safety on these existing roads rather than spending all this money on this link between two backwaters.

Why is this happening? It is simply because of a political system that disproportionally favors the rural parts of the country over the more urban southwest. Siglufj÷r­ur is also a place that punches far above its own weight even within its own rural region because it apparently breeds politicians.
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Old January 29th, 2010, 10:45 PM   #8
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Icelandic and Norwegian politics seems to have more in common than we believe, building the last mile to nowhere have always been the highest priority in Norway....

But, will you really get a motorway Reykjavik-Selfoss for only 9 billion ISK? (roughly 450 MNOK). I know roadbuilding for the most part is a lot cheaper in Iceland compared with Norway due to the lava surface (compared with clay or solid cliffs which are very common in Norway), less area conflicts, for the most part less rugged terrain, and (currently) lower labor costs, but still.......
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Old January 30th, 2010, 12:07 AM   #9
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Well the currency went down the toilet when the banks collapsed so all cost estimates are obsolete now. In 2006 (when the decision was made to blast these tunnels), 9 billion ISK were roughly around 900 million NOK. A 2005 report from the public road administration estimated the cost of a four-lane, grade separated road between ReykjavÝk and Selfoss to be less than 8 billion ISK. That estimate was based on the recent experience from upgrading the road between ReykjavÝk and KeflavÝk.

If we would start today, it would not be possible to do this for a cost less than 15-20 billion ISK. I am just mourning the lost opportunity that we had for a while there but blew away.

Last edited by Bjarki; January 30th, 2010 at 12:15 AM.
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Old March 24th, 2010, 12:18 AM   #10
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The government would probably return to the days when the city still had about 3000 inhabitants, all shared in the profits of the fisheries (herring). Should only the herring come back :-)

I have been in 2008 Siglufj÷rdur (as tourist) and have seen the fishing museum ......... those were the days.
As a Dutchman I would almost say that the money could be better spent ;-), but I do not.

When I see what has changed since my last visit in 1996, the entire infrastructure of Iceland huge improved, but in this "outback" spent so much money for a tunnel, maybe goes a bit too far.

But 3.5 billion ISK is also a lot of money for "only" 4000 residents of Vestmannaeyjar and the annual festival although I begrudge anyone.

I hope to return next year (??) to Iceland and visit also the Latrabjarg to see the birds. I've heard there are plans for a tunnel here (yet another) to get a little closer to the birds ............. I hope that I misunderstood.

Leave Iceland as it is. I love it this way.

Last edited by dettibear; March 24th, 2010 at 07:20 PM. Reason: writing error
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Old March 26th, 2010, 05:12 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dettibear View Post
The government would probably return to the days when the city still had about 3000 inhabitants, all shared in the profits of the fisheries (herring). Should only the herring come back :-)

I have been in 2008 Siglufj÷rdur (as tourist) and have seen the fishing museum ......... those were the days.
As a Dutchman I would almost say that the money could be better spent ;-), but I do not.

When I see what has changed since my last visit in 1996, the entire infrastructure of Iceland huge improved, but in this "outback" spent so much money for a tunnel, maybe goes a bit too far.

But 3.5 billion ISK is also a lot of money for "only" 4000 residents of Vestmannaeyjar and the annual festival although I begrudge anyone.

I hope to return next year (??) to Iceland and visit also the Latrabjarg to see the birds. I've heard there are plans for a tunnel here (yet another) to get a little closer to the birds ............. I hope that I misunderstood.

Leave Iceland as it is. I love it this way.
I can assure you that there is no tunnel planned close to Lßtrabjarg, there is one being planned between Dřrafj÷r­ur and Arnarfj÷r­ur that would be about 70 km from Lßtrabjarg. That tunnel would enable year-round travel between ═safj÷r­ur which is like the capital of the Westfjords region and the towns in the southern part of the region. Those towns are the most isolated settlements in Iceland today and I think it is justified to spend some money there even if it benefits few people. We are a small nation in a big country and if we don't want every person to live in ReykjavÝk we inevitably need to spend some cash to get decent infrastructure around the island. It's only when this spending goes completely nuts like in the HÚ­insfj÷r­ur tunnel project that I object.
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Old March 27th, 2010, 01:10 AM   #12
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Did you mean the Dynjandishei­i tunnel 10.8 kilometers long (Vatnsdalur - Dynjandisvogur)?That will be the longest tunnel of Iceland, I think.

I've also read that the intention is to dig a tunnel close to Íxnadalshei­i. This one will be 10.7 kilometers long.
Are they all plans or is even actually started these tunnels?

Quote:
Those towns are the most isolated settlements in Iceland today and I think it is justified to spend some money there even if it benefits few people. We are a small nation in a big country and if we don't want every person to live in ReykjavÝk we inevitably need to spend some cash to get decent infrastructure around the island.
So, Iceland digs tunnels to keep the people were they are now .

For practical reasons(snow in the winter), I understand that Iceland choose for tunnels.

Digging tunnels in the Netherlands takes a lot of money. Usually those projects cost 2 times as much money as that is budgeted.
This is because the ground is soft and very muddy. We live in a large area below sea level and keep the water out with our dikes. Since you have no problems with that I suppose .

Here the birds fly lower than the fishes are swimming.
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Old March 27th, 2010, 02:28 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dettibear View Post
Did you mean the Dynjandishei­i tunnel 10.8 kilometers long (Vatnsdalur - Dynjandisvogur)?That will be the longest tunnel of Iceland, I think.

I've also read that the intention is to dig a tunnel close to Íxnadalshei­i. This one will be 10.7 kilometers long.
Are they all plans or is even actually started these tunnels?


So, Iceland digs tunnels to keep the people were they are now .

For practical reasons(snow in the winter), I understand that Iceland choose for tunnels.

Digging tunnels in the Netherlands takes a lot of money. Usually those projects cost 2 times as much money as that is budgeted.
This is because the ground is soft and very muddy. We live in a large area below sea level and keep the water out with our dikes. Since you have no problems with that I suppose .

Here the birds fly lower than the fishes are swimming.
The tunnel I refer to is the one replacing the road over Hrafnseyrarhei­i which is a difficult mountain pass, it will be 5.6 km long. That one is in the environmental impact assessment process and could be started any time now if there was any money available. That tunnel and another one in the far-east Iceland are the next to be built but the public financial situation will determine when it will be possible to start digging. Probably not before 2012.

Plans for a 10 km long tunnel under Dynjandishei­i have been permanently axed. The plan now is to build a new paved road over the mountain instead, roughly along the layout of the current road. It will be amongst the highest mountain highways in Iceland (around 500 meters above sea level) with the tough winter conditions that inevitably follow. Snow removal from the road should be relatively easy though since the road would run on a high plateau where the wind does most of the job of keeping snow off the road surface.

The Íxnadalshei­i tunnel is mentioned as a possibility in a report from a few years back but there is no discussion going on about it. It will be many years before that option will be seriously considered, let alone built. Íxnadalshei­i as it is, is not such a pressing problem. If we ever come to the point were spending money to build a 10 km tunnel under Íxnadalshei­i makes sense, it would probably be smarter to just put that money into digging a 20 km long tunnel between Hjaltadalur in Skagafj÷r­ur and H÷rgßrdalur in Eyjafj÷r­ur. A route that would have many additional benefits over the current route over Íxnadalshei­i.
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Old June 20th, 2010, 03:37 PM   #14
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Landsvirkjun, the national power company of Iceland, called for bids last friday to have a new hydropowerstation built. The B˙­arhßls powerplant would generate 80 MW and involves constructing a 2.1 kilometer long embankment dam and a 4 kilometer water tunnel to lead the water to the powerplant. The reservoir created by the dam will be 7 square kilometers.

This is not a particularly large project in the context of the existing hydropower infrastructure in Iceland but it is notable because it is the far largest construction project to start in Iceland after the meltdown of the country's financial system in 2008. It signals better times ahead for the economy.


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Old June 20th, 2010, 03:45 PM   #15
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Too bad Iceland is situated where it is. Tons of potential for exporting of electricity!
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Old June 20th, 2010, 04:10 PM   #16
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Indeed. It is technically possible to lay a sub-sea transmission cable to mainland Europe but it would be very expensive and energy losses would be significant over such long distances. It would be the longest such cable in the world, the longest one currently is NorNed that connects Norway with the Netherlands over 600 km. This is still considered an option for the future and potentially profitable if electricity prices in the EU rise in the future as is forseeable (especially with new carbon taxes and such). Iceland could become the Kuwait of renewable energy!

The more realistic near-term option for exporting electricity concerns our neighbours on the Faroe Islands. The islands currently generate most of their electricity by burning oil but could potentially get a lot cheaper (and cleaner) electricity from Iceland.

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Old July 21st, 2010, 01:15 PM   #17
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The first post in this thread was about Landeyjah÷fn, a new ferry terminal on the sandy southern coast of Iceland that offers a much shorter ferry route to the island town of Vestmannaeyjar. It opened yesterday, a few weeks behind schedule (only because of the eruption in Eyjafjallaj÷kull which halted work for a while because the area had to be evacuated) but on budget.

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Old July 29th, 2010, 07:50 PM   #18
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The German automobile club ADAC did a survey of safety features in road tunnels in 13 European countries. (See here in German) The Hvalfj÷r­ur tunnel in Iceland failed spectacularly and was the worst of the tunnels surveyed.

The media and "bloggers" have gone nuts over this news, speculating if the tunnel is "dangerous". However nobody seems to have the rationality to check out the study itself and understand how it was done. If they did, they would find out that the tunnel (which has a AADT of 5000) is being compared with motorway tunnels in Europe that have a lot higher traffic. Not really reasonable comparison although it's clear that a lot needs be done in Icelandic tunnels to bring them up to current safety standards.
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Old September 16th, 2010, 01:39 PM   #19
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What's up with Landeyjah÷fn? I've read that it is already silting up to the extent the ferry from Vestmannaeyjar is having to go back to using Thorlakshofn as before. Is the problem easily remedied or will it be ongoing?
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Old September 18th, 2010, 08:22 PM   #20
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It has been unusable for the last two weeks because of silt buildup but the ferry started sailing there again today after a big dredging operation. It was always known that the channel into the harbour would need to be dredged regularly but the amount of sediments that has been building up has been much greater than expected. There are two things to consider before the whole thing is written off as a huge fiasco:

A) The vast majority of these sediments can be traced directly to the eruption in Eyjafjallaj÷kull this spring. The river Markarfljˇt that flows into the sea like 10 kilometers to the east from the harbour carried a lot of silt to the sea during the floods that eruption caused. This excessive silt will be washed away to the sea over the coming months and years with the currents but maintaining the harbour will be more expensive during this period.

B) The ferry that is currently being used is not optimal for operating out of this harbour which was designed for a ship with a significantly smaller draft. Ordering this new ferry was delayed indefinately to cut costs.

This will be a very difficult winter in operating Landeyjah÷fn.
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