Norway’s Construction of the Century - The Atlantic Road

Ms. Sudeshna Mukherjee
Assistant Editor, Civil Engineering and Construction Review

Located in the Midwest part of the Norwegian coastline, the Atlantic Road is one of the most scenic drives in the world. Driving along this road is like teetering on the edge of the sea. The curvy road dips and arches over the brutal waves of the Norwegian Sea that often crash over the pavement during storms. This unique highway will bring you out to the very farthest point where the land ends and the ocean begins.

The Atlantic Road is part of Norwegian national road 64, the road’s roller coaster-feel, curvy bridges and phenomenal views have made it a favourite of road trippers and motorcyclists. The construction of the road started in August 1983 and it took six years to be completed. Its 8 breath-taking (and sometimes terrifying) bridges have become one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions. The weather in the area is also unpredictable and harsh with visibility disappearing quickly, strong winds, and sudden temperature drops.

This road links the towns of Kristiansund and Molde, the two main population centres in the county of Møre og Romsdal in Fjord Norway. It starts approximately 30 kilometres southwest of Kristiansund and ends 47 kilometres north of Molde. It’s a very popular tourist attraction in the country. The road includes 8 bridges with a total length of 891 metres. It was also designated a Cultural Heritage Site, and is considered a National Tourist Route, and has been recognized as the Norwegian Construction of the Century.

Routes and Various Links

After construction, the road was opened on 7 July 1989. During construction the area was hit by 12 European windstorms. The first ten years the drivers had to pay toll to drive on it, but since 26th of June 1999 the road has been toll-free. The surface of the road is asphalt and had a cost of 122 million Norwegian krone. The road is 8.274-kilometre long section of County Road 64 that connects the island and municipality of Averøy with the mainland at Eide. The road runs across an archipelago of partially inhabited islands and skerries. To the north lies Hustadvika, an unsheltered section of the Norwegian Sea, to the south Lauvøyfjorden. The road has a width of 6.5 metres and a maximum gradient of eight per cent. It consists of eight bridges and four resting places and viewpoints. Several tourist sites, including dining, fishing and scuba diving resorts, have been established on the islands. Along with the section from Vevang to Bud, the road has been designated one of 18 National Tourist Routes.

The Atlanterhavsveien is built on several small islands and is spanned by eight bridges and several landfills. The Atlantic Road is just about the most scenic route one could imagine. There are several panoramic views and rest areas with facilities in bold architectural forms along the Atlantic Road. This road also has an open sea view, which is not so common for roads along the Norwegian coast. The distance between the islands was so small that a road could be built across the archipelago. In addition, there are fjords and mountains inside the road.
This exquisite road connects Averøy with the mainland via a series of small islands and islets spanned by a total of eight bridges over 8,274 metres. It opened in 1989 and is toll free. The Atlantic Road has National Tourist Route status and the entire stretch between Bud and Kristiansund is one continuous experience packed with coastal scenery, culture and history. The contrasts between a trip on a sun-soaked and tranquil summer day and a foam-sprayed journey in a storm from the northwest are amazing.

Norwegian Construction of the Century

In 2005, the Atlantic Road was named the Norwegian Construction of the Century. The award was sponsored by the construction industry and the national broadcaster NRK in connection with the 100th anniversary of the dissolution of Norway’s union with Sweden. The Atlantic is an 8.3-kilometre section of Country Road 64, which runs between the towns of Kristiansund and Molde, the two main population centres in the county of More og Romsdal in Fjord, Norway.
The road is built on several small islands and skerries, which are connected by several causeways, viaducts and eight bridges. The road begins at Utheim on Averøy, close to the village of Kårvåg. It runs onto the island of Kuholmen and then across the 115-metre long Little Lauvøysund Bridge onto the island of Lille Lauvøy. It continues across the 52-metre long Store Lauvholmen Bridge onto Store Lauvøy. Next it crosses the equally long Geitøysund Bridge to Geitøya, which features a viewpoint and parking. It then runs across Eldhusøya and Lyngholmen, before reaching Ildhusøya, where there is a resting place, parking and a viewpoint. Next is Storseisundet Bridge, a cantilever bridge 260 metres long. The municipal boundary between Eide and Averøy runs under the bridge. It then runs across Flatskjæret, where there is a viewpoint, before crossing onto Hulvågen via the three Hulvågen Bridges, which combined are 293-metre long. From there the road runs through Skarvøy and Strømsholmen, both with a resting place. The route reaches the mainland over the 119-metre long Vevangstraumen Bridge.
The road that crosses this “infamous stretch of ocean” was hailed as the world’s best road trip by the British newspaper The Guardian. In 2006, the newspaper ranked the Atlantic Road ahead of more famous roads in for instance, Australia and the Himalayas.

In 2007, the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten asked their readers to vote for Norway’s most beautiful car journey amongst eleven selected alternatives. The Atlantic Road came second, only beaten by the iconic tourist destination Trollstigen. The Atlantic Road is a National Tourist Route and was honoured as Norway’s Construction of the Century in 2005.
Along Atlanterhavsvegen, several smaller roads branch out to ports with breakwaters offering protection from the elements. Out on the breakwaters, the sense of closeness to the ocean and the forces of nature are at its most intense, in stormy as well as sunny weather. The viewing platform on the outer end of the breakwater at Askevagen offers a 360-degree panoramic view of the archipelago, the ocean and the shore.

Planning of the Rauma Line to connect the national railway network to Møre og Romsdal was under way, and several proposals were made to extend it to the coastal towns. In 1921, Møre og Romsdal County Council chose the outer route, which would have followed a path close to that of the road. The Rauma Line was not built beyond Åndalsnes, and in 1935 the Parliament of Norway decided to connect the coastal towns in Møre og Romsdal to Åndalsnes by road instead of rail.
Although the plans were officially shelved, locals continued to work with the idea of a road connecting Averøy with the mainland. The toll company Atlanterhavsveien AS was established in 1970. Arne Rettedal, who was Minister of Local Government and Regional Development in the early 1980s, proposed that job creation funds could be allocated to road projects. The proposal was approved in 1983, after it had been supported by the municipalities of Averøy, Eide and Fræna. Construction started as a municipal road project on 1 August 1983 but progressed slowly. From 1 July 1986, the Norwegian Public Roads Administration took over the project, speeding up construction and allowing it to open on 7 July 1989.
– The route was originally proposed as a railway line in the early 20th century, but this was ultimately abandoned. Serious planning of the road started in the 1970s, and construction started on 1st August 1983.
– During construction, the area was hit by twelve hurricanes. The road was opened on 7th July 1989, having costed 122 million Norwegian krone (NOK), of which 25% was financed with tolls and the rest from public grants.
– Collection of tolls was scheduled to run for 15 years, but by June 1999 the road was paid off and the toll removed. The road is preserved as a cultural heritage site and is classified as a National Tourist Route.
– In 2009, the Atlantic Ocean Tunnel opened from Averøy to Kristiansund; combined, they have become a second fixed link between Kristiansund and Molde

.Construction cost was NOK 122 million and was financed 25% by debt to be recollected through tolls, 25% by job creation funds and 50% by ordinary state road grants. There was significant local opposition against toll financing, as few people believed it would be possible to pay off the road in the stipulated 15 years. However, by June 1999 the road was paid off and tolls removed. The accelerated amortization was caused both by greater than predicted local traffic and by large amounts of tourist traffic.