Nearly 2.5 million cubic meters of rock was excavated and drilled to create the tunnel over a course of 5 years. Finally completed in 2000, the roadway was split up into four unique sections. Taking into account the physical and mental toll of drive for 25 kilometers through a small tunnel, there were cavern sections added at the end of these sections. These beautiful hideaways serve as not only a break from the mundane scenery but a functional spot to turn around if needed.
The tunnel does not have any emergency exits, but engineers carefully designed series of redundant safety features into the tunnels. There are emergency phones stationed every 250 meters and emergency alcoves carved out ever 500 meters. Whenever one of the phones is used, large illuminated signs tell cars to stop from entering the tunnel, indicating a fire or other problem.
The next question you may be asking is how does the air stay clean or breathable in the world’s longest tunnel? At each entrance there are large ventilation fans that push fresh air into the tunnel while simultaneously pumping polluted air out. This polluted air is captured and treated in a separate air treatment plant, a first for tunnel engineering. This plant cleans dust from the air as well as well as nitrogen-dioxide through the use of several filters.
The Laerdal tunnel is an example of engineers who took into account not only the physical structure of the roadway but also the intended use and affect it would have on users. Main sections are lined with bright white lights and the caverns, as mentioned above, are brightly illuminated with an array of colors. This effect essentially refreshes the driver and keeps them focused on continuing the journey to the other side of the mountain.
It is hard to imagine such a functional piece of engineering being so beautiful, but who said engineering had to be boring. Some of the most exciting engineering projects of the modern era have been extensively crafted with the help of architects and designers across the globe.