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Old September 24th, 2009, 11:37 PM   #61
54°26′S 3°24′E
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Having recently made an extensive drive on Iceland, the island IMO has very good roads when taking the population and traffic density into consideration. Reykjanesbraut is probably the lonliest motorway (because that it what it would have been called in most other countries) I have ever driven on, and also the Selfoss road seem to be of good standard taking the traffic into consideration, partly already with barriers. After all, Selfoss is only a small town. Reykjavik has several multilane roads that mostly are grade-separated, but here the traffic is higher as this is where most of Icelanders currently live.

I wonder, with the current status of the Icelandic economy, whether any of the motorways projects discussed above will materialize within the next decade. Sadly, the national debt is now sky-high after the Icelandic crash (US crash x10), and even though building good roads on Iceland is fairly inexpensive compared with for instance Norway since most of the countryside is empty, and equally important, has porous lava ground, I am not sure that making the current excellent road network into the world's best would be the right choise right now. IMO, Iceland should focus on making a good and stable climate for doing bussiness and reignite growth, and other measures, like tax incentives, focus on research and investments in natural resourse explotation makes more sense. Reykjavik is extremely spread out and has some traffic problem although it is a modest sized city (more or less like Trondheim). Hence, if I was a Rekjavik city planner I would rather focus on densification than adding even more lanes.

Iceland is a great country to visit and now comes at half the previous price. I would recommend anyone to go, and your cash will be highly appreciated...
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Old September 28th, 2009, 02:30 AM   #62
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Originally Posted by 54°26′S 3°24′E View Post
Having recently made an extensive drive on Iceland, the island IMO has very good roads when taking the population and traffic density into consideration. Reykjanesbraut is probably the lonliest motorway (because that it what it would have been called in most other countries) I have ever driven on, and also the Selfoss road seem to be of good standard taking the traffic into consideration, partly already with barriers. After all, Selfoss is only a small town. Reykjavik has several multilane roads that mostly are grade-separated, but here the traffic is higher as this is where most of Icelanders currently live.

I wonder, with the current status of the Icelandic economy, whether any of the motorways projects discussed above will materialize within the next decade. Sadly, the national debt is now sky-high after the Icelandic crash (US crash x10), and even though building good roads on Iceland is fairly inexpensive compared with for instance Norway since most of the countryside is empty, and equally important, has porous lava ground, I am not sure that making the current excellent road network into the world's best would be the right choise right now. IMO, Iceland should focus on making a good and stable climate for doing bussiness and reignite growth, and other measures, like tax incentives, focus on research and investments in natural resourse explotation makes more sense. Reykjavik is extremely spread out and has some traffic problem although it is a modest sized city (more or less like Trondheim). Hence, if I was a Rekjavik city planner I would rather focus on densification than adding even more lanes.

Iceland is a great country to visit and now comes at half the previous price. I would recommend anyone to go, and your cash will be highly appreciated...
I agree. Considering the physical size of the country and its small population we have a mostly adequate road network. There are still important roads in remote regions, mostly the northwestern and northeastern corners of the country, that are still only narrow gravel roads. There have been dramatic improvements in those rural regions in the last few years though while the southwest, where most of the people live, has seen relatively little investment. This means that people in southwest feel like they have been getting the short end of the stick and projects like Suðurlandsvegur to Selfoss and Sundabraut are not only being considered because of safety and efficiency reasons but also as an way to make up for the perceived injustice.

Earlier this year a stop was put on all new contracts for roadworks, this includes the first phase of Suðurlandsvegur. I think there is a general agreement though that stopping all infrastructure investment would be a stupid move (it would completely kill off the little that remains of the contruction industry) even if money is currently tight with the government so people are currently looking for alternative ways to finance new infrastructure. There we have the country's pension funds. They have loads of money but no good investment opportunities so it makes perfect sense for them to lend some money to the government which would use it to finance new infrastructure. Suðurlandsvegur and maybe parts of Vesturlandsvegur to the north of the capital will probably be built in this way in the near future. I do believe that in ten years, there will be a motorway between Reykjavík and Selfoss.

I do like the fact that Icelandic politicians and bureaucrats seem to be starting to realize that motorways belong in the countryside as intercity and interregional connections but not so much inside the city where they tend to tear up the urban fabric and encourage unsustainable and unwalkable sprawl. The Reykjavík metropolitan area is currently extremely car-centric and much closer to a N-American cities than European ones in that respect. Planning authorities there seriously need to draw a line around the current edges of the built up area and put a stop to further development outside that line. New development should be focused inwards and public transport needs to be rethinked. Perhaps there is time to think about light rail in some form, but that is a matter for a different thread...
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Old September 29th, 2009, 04:33 PM   #63
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Tunnels in Iceland, including one with an underground juction.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LscUoz2I1Rs
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Old September 30th, 2009, 11:45 AM   #64
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I live just a couple off km away from that tunnel in the video. It was opened in 1996 and was the last one in Iceland that included single lane sections. All new tunnels since then have been two lanes all the way.
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Old October 1st, 2009, 02:14 AM   #65
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Some parts of the circular road around the island have less than 50 cars a day...
That's nothing, there are some roads in Alaska that get less than 100 cars a year. I'm sure there are roads elsewhere that get considerably less traffic.
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Old October 1st, 2009, 10:28 AM   #66
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Yeah, but those are roads to nowhere. The Icelandic ring road is the only connection to get around the island.
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Old October 18th, 2009, 10:30 PM   #67
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The government budget for 2010 has now been revealed. As was expected, it includes heavy cuts on the expenditure side. Funds allocated for investment in the road network in 2010 amount to 9 billion ISK. This compares to 17 billion in 2009 and 21 billion in 2008. These 9 billions will mostly go towards finishing large projects that are already in progress (most of them far away from the populated southwest) but no new large projects will be started. This means that the potential motorway corridors that I have described above won't get a single króna from the government. It should be mentioned as well that every billion goes a shorter way now than it did before the financial meltdown because the value of the currency has been slashed in half.

For a time, the possibility was discussed that the pension funds would lend money to the government to be used for these motorway projects but that has been pushed off the table now as it would mean pushing the state deeper into debt. Pension fund money will only be used for financially sustainable projects (where the cost can be completely recovered with tolls). Any suggestion for tolled roads is sure to be met with great hostility in Iceland and I am afraid that the political establishment would rather like to see nothing happen that to introduce unpopular tolls.
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Old October 18th, 2009, 11:39 PM   #68
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Hi
I was kind of expected this to happen. However, Icelanders are a hardworking and creative people, and in not to many years I guess you will have those road, and hopefully also a paved road to Ísafjördur!
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Old October 19th, 2009, 02:49 AM   #69
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Thank you! There has actually been a major breakthrough on the Ísafjörður-Reykjavík road. Just earlier this month, the last unpaved section on the way was eliminated so now it is possible to drive the whole way on paved roads. Earlier this summer, the second last unpaved section was finished. These two new roads also shorten the winter-route by some 70 kilometers. In summers it will still be slightly shorter to go over an unpaved mountain road.

There was even a memorial made for this great occasion.



More pictures here.
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Old October 19th, 2009, 07:21 AM   #70
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By the way, how is the general mood in Iceland? It's been a year since your traumatic banking disaster.
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Old October 20th, 2009, 02:42 AM   #71
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Well first came the shock and then anger. The anger has mostly subsided now, perhaps too early since nobody has been held responsible for anything relating to the crash yet. There are still plenty of reasons to be furious at the financial and political elite which made this happen. The general mood now seems depressed since it is starting to become clear to everyone that there are no easy solutions and that the next couple of years will be really hard.

In the longer term, there are reasons for optimism though. We have plentiful and cheap renewable energy, bunch of fish in the sea and a relatively young and well educated population. We'll be back.
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Old December 7th, 2009, 02:13 PM   #72
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I love urban sprawl. Opinions vary on that matter, and I'm happy to learn that Reijkavyk is sprawled. It makes life more comfortable once you get a car, and I guess every family in Iceland can afford a car.
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Old December 7th, 2009, 03:49 PM   #73
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Urban sprawl is an urbanistic, ecological and transport disaster, even if in a country of only 320.000 inhabitants is not as serious as in big cities.
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Old December 7th, 2009, 03:53 PM   #74
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Urban sprawl is necessary to create affordable housing.
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Old December 7th, 2009, 04:34 PM   #75
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A good planification is a better solution.
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Old December 7th, 2009, 04:54 PM   #76
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Quote:
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Urban sprawl is necessary to create affordable housing.
or: build commieblocks...
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Old December 7th, 2009, 05:16 PM   #77
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That is the biggest contradiction "new urbanists" can never get rid of: sprawled cities, on average, provide cheaper housing, and the "cheaper" element offsets the extra transportation costs.

When I read planification, planning, affordable housing etc. as a "remedy" to skyrocket real estate prices in "smart growht" communities, I can easily thin of shortchanged or "communist"-like measures, like: rent controls, public ownership of housing stock, hefty property taxes, anti-eviction laws etc. etc.

There is no point in forging or fostering urban arrangements that are "ecological" or that appeases the coolness of architects if people cannot afford to live in those places (bad) without compromising landlord property rights (bad/worse). I'm yet to see any "smart growth" community or city that can provide, consistenly, housing space as cheap as in the suburbs, even without accounting for PRIVATE open space (lawns, gardens etc., which many families with children consider important).

People who promote "back to the inner city" movements forgot that long are gone the days when a Western family would consider apropriate to have a son and a daughter sharing the same bedroom until teenage and the whole family having just one bathroom, for instance. Space demands are up, so the result of "back to downtown" politics is skyrocket housing prices, pushing poorer and not-so-poorer families to choose between living in nearby cities and commuting (far more distant than in a suburb) or living in cramped spaces without modern day expectations of privacy and comfort. It just seems to be what happens right now in Amsterdam, for instance. Urban-hype planners also forget that most families have both adults working, therefore is not possible to just live nearby woman's workplace AND man's workplace simultaneously, unless both are pursuing only low-paid careers like cashiers or janitors.

I really don't want to start a urban X suburban controversy here, as this is the thread for Icelandic highways. But I do mantain my point that, as big as Iceland is, it is probably the place with LEAST over-sprawl issues in Western World, maybe at-par with Canada. HUGE territory, SMALL population, what the hell do they need to stack over each other? Dutch might need to do so, Icelanders... just non-sense.
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Old December 7th, 2009, 09:02 PM   #78
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or: build commieblocks...
Yeah, no matter what people think, I say this is a very good solution. Especially if they look really cool, like in Pyongyang, the former Yugoslavia, perhaps even Moscow.
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Old December 7th, 2009, 09:49 PM   #79
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Good planification = build hospitals and stadiums near railway or metro stations (just an example).
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Old December 7th, 2009, 09:57 PM   #80
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Yeah let's demolish dozens of city blocks to build a hospital with 10% less parking spots

Such facilities almost always have a interregional function. It's doesn't have much use to relocate them to a transit-accessible area unless you're in a New York City-sized city. It will siphon off some traffic, but you redirect massive traffic flows towards areas with a road network not suited for heavy traffic.
I can't imagine relocating my city's hospital (5.900 employees) from the ring road to a location near the railway station. That would create uncontrollable traffic congestion.
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