World's first under sea roundabout to open between Faroe Islands

Tim Ecott
·2-min read
The new sub-sea tunnel is likely to be something of a tourist attraction in its own right - faroephoto.com
The new sub-sea tunnel is likely to be something of a tourist attraction in its own right - faroephoto.com

When driving between the Faroese islands of Eysturoy and Stremoy, heavy traffic is rarely a consideration.

But commuters can rest assured that even at the height of rush hour their journeys will be smooth thanks to the world's first undersea roundabout.

The sub-sea traffic circle sits inside a new 11km tunnel that is set to dramatically reduce journey times between the capital Tórshavn and the key fishing port of Klaksvik. 

The Eysturoyartunnelin, as the Faroe Islands’ largest ever infrastructure project is known, is budgeted at just over 1 billion Danish Kroner (approx £120million) which works out at around £25,000 per islander. The costs will be recouped by a toll of just under £10 per car. The roundabout gives drivers the option of surfacing at two separate points on the island of Eysturoy. The tunnel will be 189 metres below the Atlantic, and final safety tests and fire drills will be carried out next week.

Currently, road journeys between Tórshavn and Klaksvik take around 70 minutes via a bridge between the two islands further north, but this will be cut to under forty minutes. Foreign tourism and a rising population have seen Faroes develop significantly in the last decade with the island’s own airline Atlantic Airways expanding rapidly internationally.

The new sub-sea tunnel is likely to be something of a tourist attraction in its own right, and the prominent local artist Tróndur Patursson has created an eighty metre long steel sculpture for the roundabout.

Representing interlinking human figures it represents the unique Faroese ‘ring dance’ where unlimited numbers of people join hands and keep time with simple side to side steps to a traditional ballad.

The tunnel marks the precise geographical centre of the Faroes’ archipelago of 17 inhabited islands halfway between Shetland and Iceland. NCC has already started drilling on another tunnel of similar length linking Streymoy with the small island of Sandoy – population 1,200. One aim of the sub-sea tunnels is to prevent the depopulation of smaller villages. It is hoped that reliable road links will reduce dependency on inter-island ferries which are frequently disrupted by Faroes’ extreme winter weather.