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Monday, July 15, 2024

Political quarrels stall highway project

Officials from the state, the city of Oslo and the huge new county of Viken have given up on any agreement over expansion and improvements to the main E18 highway west of the Norwegian capital. No one seems to know what will happen now.

Financing for the project, which has grown considerably in size and scope over the years, was supposed to come mostly from local road tolls in addition to state and local funding. State Transport Minister Knut Arild Hareide took part in the latest meeting this week, and concluded that it wasn’t possible to agree on improvements to the critical stretch between Lysaker (just of the city line to adjacent Bærum) and Ramstadsletta at Høvik, four kilometers to the west. It now involves tunnels for cars and overhead thoroughfares for busses and rail transport.

Hareide said the state will contribute only if it’s all expanded, while Oslo city officials don’t want even more people driving into Oslo. Officials from Viken, which now extends from the mountains around Geilo all the way south to the Swedish border beyond Fredrikstad, haven’t seemed interested in contributing to the project since Viken was formed through a merger involving Bærum’s former Akershus County. Proposals have come in to only improve a congested portion between Lysaker and Strand, east of Ramstadsletta.

“Oslo and Viken have created complete chaos,” a shaken Bærum mayor, Lisbeth Hammer Krog, told state broadcaster NRK. Hareide posed an ultimatum on Friday: Either the entire E18 project from Oslo to Ramstadsletta or nothing. The latter may now result, with the new rail project between Oslo and Fornebu threatened as well. staff



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