Major highway may reopen to ease summer traffic

Bookmark and Share

The heavily trafficked E-18 highway southwest of Oslo, closed since one of its bridges collapsed last winter, may reopen before the busy summer holiday season known as fellesferien begins in early July. Authorities have now confirmed, meanwhile, that the bridge collapsed because the owner of the land under it was carrying out major excavation work.

Landowner Bjorn Hundstand now faces enormous compensation claims. He contends, however, that he was never told by the state highway department, Statens vegvesen, that the land under the bridge was composed of unstable clay. Geologists and the state waterways agency NVE have determined that excavation work he was carrying out in connection with improvements to an adjacent golf course caused a landslide, which in turn swept away the foundation under the bridge.

No one was injured during the dramatic collapse of the two southbound lanes of the bridge on February 2, but it created major traffic disruption and forced a slow detour through the nearby town of Holmestrand. The bridge was later blown up and will be rebuilt, at a cost of around NOK 150 million.

Meanwhile, state and local officials hope the two undamaged northbound lanes of the bridge on the E18 can reopen for two-way traffic when the summer holiday season gets underway. The E18 is the main highway serving the region along Norway’s popular southern coast known as Sørlandet, where many Norwegians have summer homes. staff