COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Norway plans to build the world's first tunnel for ships, a 5,610-feet passageway burrowed through a piece of rocky peninsula that will allow vessels to avoid a treacherous part of sea.
Construction of the Stad Ship Tunnel, which would be able to accommodate cruise and freight ships weighing up to 16,000 tons, is expected to open in 2023.
It will be 118 feet wide and 162 feet tall and is estimated to cost at least $314 million.
Norwegian Transportation Minister Ketil Solvik-Olsen said Wednesday that sea currents and underwater topography in this part of the country's southwestern coast "result in particularly complex wave conditions."
The tunnel is expected to be located at the narrowest point of the Stadlandet peninsula and the weather has for decades been considered an obstacle for shipping.
Project manager Terje Andreassen said engineers will have to blast out an estimated eight million tons of rock to build the tunnel. Construction is expected to start at the earliest in 2019.
Vessels sailing through the tunnel likely will get slot times from a traffic center — like planes at an airport — to avoid congestion.