In 2009, the Swedish government approved plans to build a roughly 20 kilometre underground motorway bypass underneath the capital, linking northern Stockholm to southern Stockholm.
It is one of the largest infrastructure projects in Sweden and has been a major topic of debate for years, with those in favour saying it will help stop daily gridlocks on the current motorway that runs through central parts of the city, that even those who only want to get past the city and not go into the centre have to battle.
Those against argue that another road will only lead to more cars, not less congestion.
The bypass has been hampered by problems since its start.
Swedish public radio news programme Ekot now reports that instead of being completed in 2026 at a cost of 34.4 billion kronor ($3.58 billion), it will now only be ready for traffic in 2030 to the tune of 37.7 billion.
There are several reasons behind the delay.
The bypass was initially expected to take eight years to complete. Photo: Fredrik Persson/TT
One of the main ones was that project bosses this spring decided to terminate the contract of one of the primary suppliers for a central part of the construction, citing mismanagement and slow progress.
Another reason is that some parts of the tunnel, which at its deepest point is to run 90 metres under the surface of Lake Mälaren, have turned out to be trickier for workers to dig through than expected.
“It is of course a double-edged sword. We are running at full speed. But the situation today is such that we have to reassess time and cost compared to when the project started. That is of course sad news,” Johan Brantmark, the Swedish Transport Administration's bypass project head, told Ekot.
It was also discovered that the former contractor had made several serious errors during building work at the site on the Lovön island, for example not reinforcing the rock in the tunnels properly. Brantmark told Ekot on Tuesday that the contractor had used the wrong rock bolt for stabilizing the excavation.
The new temporary contractors therefore had to install more than 4,000 new rock bolts in the tunnels, according to Ekot. The Transport Administration declined to confirm or comment on those reports.
When it is eventually finished, the bypass – known as Förbifart Stockholm in Swedish – is going to be a primarily underground motorway connection that will link Kungens Kurva south of Stockholm with Häggvik to the north. Of its total length of 21 kilometres, around 18 will be inside tunnels.
tunnel – (en) tunnel
bypass – (en) förbifart
motorway – (en) motorväg
underground (adjective) – underjordisk
contractor – (en) entreprenör
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