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HomeInternationalThe World’s Longest Road Tunnel – Laerdal Tunnel, Norway

The World’s Longest Road Tunnel – Laerdal Tunnel, Norway

The Laerdal Tunnel, located in Norway, holds the prestigious title of being the world’s longest road tunnel. Spanning approximately 24.5 kilometers between Aurland and Laerdal, this engineering masterpiece connects the two largest cities in Norway, Oslo, and Bergen. Its construction was initiated in June 1992 to address the challenges of the region’s mountainous terrain, narrow roads, and frequent fjord crossings, which resulted in unreliable road transport. The tunnel was designed not only for practicality but also with a keen focus on safety, environmental preservation, and passenger experience.

Design for Passenger Comfort and Safety

To ensure that the journey through the tunnel was not monotonous for travelers, a dedicated working group, led by experienced psychologists at SINTEF, collaborated with the Norwegian Public Roads Administration (NPRA). The result was a well-thought-out design featuring gentle curves and short straight sections, creating the impression of driving through several shorter tunnels rather than one long passage. Specially widened areas within the tunnel allowed coaches and trains to turn easily, enhancing overall safety.

Safety Measures and Environmental Considerations

Safety was a major concern during the tunnel’s planning and construction. The Laerdal Tunnel was equipped with fire safety systems, including the use of flammable plastic mats for waterproofing, which proved effective in withstanding extreme heat. Emergency telephones, fire extinguishers, and monitoring equipment were installed at frequent intervals, and a dedicated monitoring center oversaw all tunnel systems, ready to respond to any incidents promptly.

Moreover, the disposal of approximately 2.5 million cubic meters of excavated rock presented a significant challenge. To protect the unspoiled landscape and fertile agricultural land in the main valley, more than half of the tunnel was constructed from a 2.1km access tunnel in Tynjadal. This approach allowed for the environmentally conscious deposition of excavated materials without affecting the main valley or Laerdal’s watercourses.

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