African Press International (API)

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Norway: Public Roads Administration weighing costs for renovating of tunnels

Posted by African Press International on April 12, 2007

Norwegian transport authorities were weighing up the costs of renovating the nation’s traffic tunnels after studies of construction and safety.

Road director for the Norwegian Public Roads Administration Olav Søfteland (left) and Transport Minister Liv Signe Navarsete at an earlier examination of the Hanekleiv Tunnel collapse.

PHOTO: Jarl Fr. Erichsen / SCANPIX

The Public Roads Administration estimates that it will cost at least NOK 200 million (USD 33.2 million) to secure the seven tunnels along the E18 highway in Vestfold County, NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting) reports.

The Hanekleiv Tunnel on this route collapsed late Christmas Day 2006, sparking an investigation that revealed similar dangers in tunnels cut into the same type of mountain in the area. A national check of tunnels found no other constructional worries, but an international survey found many major traffic tunnels lacking necessary emergency response measures.

Transport Minister Liv Signe Navarsete vowed that motorists would not have to pay for this via increased highway tolls, but there were still grumbles that the state expenses would still mean taxpayer funds would be used to repair poor construction.

Meanwhile, figures from the Information Council for Road Traffic (OFV) indicate that it will cost NOK 2 billion (USD 332 million) to bring the nation’s tunnels up to top standard, newspaper VG reports.

The main concerns are alarm telephones that don’t work, lighting facilities that are out of order, ventilation systems that stop and poor road surfacing.

“The backlog can mean that the tunnels are not reliable but there is no danger for the individual motorist,” Norwegian Public Roads Administration construction director Lars Aksnes told VG.

Maintenance work is needed most in western Norway, where most of the country’s tunnels are.

“There are also major challenges in highly populated Oslo and Akershus (counties), which have neglected maintenance costs of NOK 350 million (USD 58 million),” said OFV technical director Vilrid Femoen.

Government representative Steinulf Tungesvik told VG that budget allocations for maintenance were now high enough so that neglected tasks would not continue to grow and that the goal was to reduce the gap by continuing to increase funding.

By Heidi Ertzeid and Jonathan Tisdall

Lifted and published by African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no, tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525 source. aftenposteneng

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