On Saturday, December 19th, the 3rd sub-sea tunnel was opened on the Faroe Islands – in addition to outstanding tunnel engineering expertise, it also offers some imaginative surprises.

The year 2020 can do well with a few uplifting stories about ambition, motivation, hope and success – here is one of them: 

The Faroe Islands have officially opened their third underwater tunnel, the “Eysturoyartunnilin”, on Saturday, December 19th – in time for Christmas, and for faster and weatherproof family visits between the municipalities of Runavík and Tórshavn (on opposite islands). With an impressive length of 11.3 km, the tunnel was completed in just 3 years of construction. Work started in 2017 and the opening ceremony will take place with a total delay of 12 days (!). When asked where this delay came from, the responsible CEO of the project, Teitur Samuelsen, replied that, due to more groundwater than expected entering the tunnel, more rocks had to be sealed with concrete injections – hence this delay. The water is pumped out and draining into the ocean, but is to be used in 2-3 years to heat a newly planned swimming pool in Runavík. This is fresh water (on the bottom of the sea at a depth of up to 187 m!) And it is hot.

“The pandemic did not affect the construction”,

Teitur states.

” In the first week for COVID-19 outbreak, the tunnel construction company introduced a safety protocol with distance and hygiene rules in place for the people involved in the construction. All were furthermore regularly tested (the capacities for testing were available on the Faroe Islands from the start) and planes were chartered by Atlantic Airlines in order to set up a shuttle service for employees between Norway and the Faroe Islands. All precautions were successfull, no delays were caused by COVD-19.”

But this tunnel has more stories to tell – beyond the impressive technical facts:

For one thing, the Eysturoy tunnel is the only one in the North Atlantic that has a roundabout in the depths of the sea. The first question usually therefore is – please, why do you need a roundabout in a sub-sea tunnel? It’s easy – there is an intersection there! The tunnel forks and after 7.5 km (from Tórshavn) leads once to Strendur and on the other side to Runavik / Klaksvik. This substantially shortens the distance from Tórshavn and the journey time accordingly from 64 to 16 minutes to Runavik and from 68 to 36 minutes to Klaksvik.

As if that weren’t sensational enough, the tunnel also becomes an art gallery.

As an art installation the roundabout was designed around its central column by a famous Faroese artist, Tróndur Patursson, painter, sculptor and glass artist: a ring of people around the central column symbolizes one of the traditional ring dances of the islands (“Faroese Chain Dance”) – a circle of people who hold hands and dance together. In a second meaning, people walk together towards the light – as an image of hope. A light installation complements this symbolic representation – the overall impression is reminiscent of a huge, glowing deep-sea jellyfish – unfortunately the installation will not be completely finished by the opening – due to delays in delivery of the special lights used for it from Italy.The work of art will remain an integral part of the tunnel.

The tunnel experience is further enhanced by a music installation. The Faroese composer Jens L. Thomsen was entrusted with the composition and you can hear the music on a FN channel as long as you drive through the tunnel. 

Due to the pandemic, only a smaller celebration will be planned for the opening next Saturday – politicians and people significantly involved in the construction will assemble around the roundabout in safe distance  – music will be performed and speeches will be given – of course the artists will also take part. Live-streaming of the opening ceremony is planned.

The Eysturoy Tunnel is to become an integral part of any visitors’ program on the Faroe Islands – the special roundabout was already the destination of many engineers from all over the world during the construction phase and admired for its uniqueness and engineering skill. The next sub-sea tunnel to Sandoy is already under construction – 30% have already been drilled and completion is planned for the end of 2023. We are positive that this project will also be carried out efficiently and on time and for now wish a successful opening and a happy journey through the new Eysturoy tunnel at all times!

Website with more facts in english: https://www.estunlar.fo/en/

More about the knowledge destination and the ambitioned business community there on LinkedIn showcase of Visit Faroe Islands Meetings and on www.tmf-dialogue.net