Sun. Jun 16th, 2024

Europe’s huge new £2.7bn motorway full of tunnels that should end city’s traffic chaos

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jun4,2024

Such plans to ease traffic chaos in this famous European city have been in planning stages since 1966, but will still not be completed before the end of the decade. 

By 2100, the population of the country famous for ABBA and IKEA is expected to swell by over 43 percent to nearly 3.5 million. With more people, comes more traffic. The plan to end Stockholm’s traffic problems was thought to be solved through the completion of the six-lane Essingeleden motorway over 50 years ago.

However, rising congestion has resulted in traffic double the initial capacity.

During the 1990s, the road was repainted to eight lanes to increase the capacity, but this was still not enough. 

As a result, progress is finally being made on the road and tunnel system that will circumvent the entire city, known as the Stockholm Bypass – or Förbifart Stockholm – which will house one of the longest road tunnels in the world once completed. 

The Swedish bypass will relieve arterial road and inner city traffic, and reduce the vulnerability of the Stockholm traffic system. To help reduce the impact on the sensitive natural and cultural environment, 11 of the 13 mile route will consist of tunnels. 

The bypass will start south of city in Skӓrholmen and will link to north in Hӓggvik, diverting traffic west of city centre. It will include one 11-mile tunnel, which will be the world’s third longest road tunnel in proximity to a city, after Westconnex Tunnel (Sydney) and Yamate Tunnel (Tokyo). 

A twin set of tunnel tubes will carry three lanes each, with six interchanges which will connect to existing roads and two roundabouts. At its deepest, the network will be 100 metres below ground level. 

Construction work for the first main contracts began in 2014, when it was estimated to take 15 years to complete. However, it was suspended for political reasons before restarting a year later. 2019 estimates suggest completion is still 14 years away. 

In 2009, the project was estimated to cost almost £2.3 billion, but that has since risen to £2.7 billion as a result of contract cancellations, worksite safety issues and politics. 

By 2035, the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket) estimates that the Stockholm Bypass will be used by approximately 140,000 vehicles a day. 

Construction, however, is far from simple. The bypass must navigate between the waterways which makes Stockholm so famous and it will take years just to excavate the 22 million tonnes of rock and sand needed to make way for the tunnels. Additionally, due to the differences in terrain of the region, different parts presented different challenges, including softer rock areas needing more reinforcement while others required more sealing than planned to avoid leakages. 

Driver safety is also paramount, so a ventilation system of 250 jet fans and four exhaust stations have been planned for, as well as a water-based fire prevention system in 50-metre long sections throughout the underground portions. 

Not everyone is for the bypass, however, with the Green and Left Parties opposed to the project in 2010. Arguments against construction cited increased carbon emissions, the high cost, the environmental impact along the construction route, and that traffic problems are not being addressed in a long-term perspective because travellers in the Stockholm region are enticed to continue using private transportation and because a high percentage of the present-day traffic on the frequently congested Essingeleden is local traffic to or from central Stockholm, rather than transit traffic.

The project also appears to be counterproductive given that people in Sweden are being encouraged to take public transport over driving. In fact, Sweden has banned petrol and diesel cars from some parts of the city in an effort to clean up the air. 

With the current goal of reducing carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030, Swedish officials have estimated that the bypass will contribute less than 1 percent of the country’s CO2 emissions. However, studies suggest that this may be an understatement, given the expected increases in traffic, construction vehicles and the use of non-electric vehicles.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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One thought on “Europe’s huge new £2.7bn motorway full of tunnels that should end city’s traffic chaos”
  1. As a resident of Stockholm, I believe that the construction of the new motorway and tunnels is a long-overdue solution to the city’s chronic traffic congestion. The increase in population over the years has only worsened the situation, and I am hopeful that this infrastructure project will finally bring some relief to our daily commute. The focus on minimizing the impact on the environment is also commendable. Looking forward to seeing the positive outcomes once the project is completed.

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