Bolungarvík road tunnel, Iceland

Linking the towns of Bolungarvík and Ísafjörður in Iceland's West Fjords, the road around the Óshlíð mountain side opened in 1950. Although primitive by today's standards, the road was considered a major project at the time. From the beginning, the road was exposed to avalanches and rock falls. Despite several improvements and mitigations through the decades, in 2008 a decision was made to construct a tunnel to bypass this dangerous road.

About this Project

Icelandic Road Administration

Geotek ehf.

2008 - 2010 

West fjords, Iceland


The project's objective

The road along Óshlíð was always considered one of Iceland's more dangerous roads due to frequent avalanches and rock falls. Its safety had been improved significantly through enhanced avalanche mitigation measures as gabion walls, rock fall nets, sheet piles and massive avalanche chutes along the road. Despite these measures, rock falls still proved to be unacceptable in regard to passengers' safety.

In 2008, it was decided to construct a tunnel through the mountain between Ós, near the settlement in Bolungarvík, and Skarfasker in the adjacent Hnífsdalur valley. EFLA was commissioned to provide a variety of services and solutions relating to the project. The main task was construction supervision and project management, involving engineering geology, rock mechanics, and supervision of all technical installations and auxiliary structures.

The tunnel is 5,150 metres long, and the total length of the concrete portals is 270 metres. The project also includes the construction of a new 2.1 km road in Hnífsdalur and another 1.6 km stretch from Ós to Bolungarvík, including two bridges crossing the Ósá and Langá rivers.

EFLA's role

  • Construction supervision, in cooperation with Geotek
  • Supervision of tunnel excavation, determination of rock support, such as rock bolts and sprayed concrete, along with other measures
  • Determination and supervision of water shielding measures
  • Supervision of drainage system
  • Supervision of electrical, control and communications systems
  • Supervision of road construction bridges and concrete portals