“You are always afraid”: Norway approves €1bn scheme to upgrade perilous Arctic highway

The Norwegian government has given the green light to a €937m project to upgrade the northern section of the E6, a road that runs the length of the country from the Baltic to the Arctic.  

The plan, which has been on the drawing board for the past six years, is to upgrade the section in the Sørfold municipality. This is a region 120m north of the Arctic Circle, where the country is about 20km across, and a notorious bottleneck for drivers.

Ingelin Noresjø, deputy leader of the Christian Democrat party, commented: "As far as I know, this is perhaps the largest transport project that northern Norway has ever seen. It will mean a lot to the municipality, the region but also to Norway."

She added: "You are always afraid that something will happen, because it is narrow, cramped and dark. But now it will be a completely new standard."

At present, motorists passing through the Sørfold have to use 16 tunnels, some of which are many kilometres long, have bad lighting, and are not wide enough to allow trucks to pass each other.

In some areas, the existing two-lane road will be upgraded; in others new tarmac will be laid. Two bridges will be built over fjords and 10 tunnels will be added. The most visible addition will be a 820m suspension bridge over the Leirfjorden fjord.

The Norwegian Public Roads Administration made this video back in 2016 to illustrate its plans.

Altogether the scheme aims to shorten the route by 11km, reducing driving time by about 25 minutes and making the route safer.

Construction is expected to last between five and eight years.

Image: The Trengsel Bridge on the E6 in the Sørfold municipality (Thor-Rune Hansen/CC BY-SA 3.0)

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