A temporary bridge on the E6 highway in Northern Norway was finally opened for use on Wednesday, ending what had amounted to a nearly 700-kilometer detour through Finland. Floods and disrepair that forced closure of the main bridge last week had literally cut Northern Norway in two, and showed just how vulnerable transport in the area is.
Tourists, truck drivers and not least local residents suffered severe disruption after the bridge at Badderen, on the east side of the mountains over Kvænangen, proved to be in bad shape. It cracked during a flood that damaged its foundation and was closed for fear it would collapse.
There is no alternative road in the area, where the E6 highway is also prone to frequent closure in winter because of heavy snow over the mountains between Badderen and Storslett. That has renewed debate over transport issues in Northern Norway, where the state is responsible for its highways but local governments are responsible for maintaining bridges. Alternative routes would also boost preparedness in the area.
Newspaper Klassekampen reported that defense forces stationed nearby offered to set up one of their mobile bridges over the Badder River, but the state highway department responsible for E6 itself turned them down. Most ordinary cars wouldn’t have been able to use it, even though emergency vehicles, trucks and some buses would have.
The highway department (Statens vegvesen) had predicted it would take 10-14 days to get a multi-use temporary bridge in place but instead managed the job in eight days, with traffic able to roll again on Wednesday.