On November 4, the Municipality of Arjeplog in Northern Sweden arranged a conference discussing increased cooperation between local authorities and business organizations in Northern Sweden and Northern Norway. This as a response to the decision by the Norwegian government to start the construction of the road tunnel through Tjernfjellet, which comprises an essential section of the corridor "The Silver Road": Skellefteå-Bodö.
Cooperation to promote regional development and growth
The conference gathered approx. 60 participants from the Norwegian municipalities of Bodö, Saltdal and Fauske and the Swedish municipalities of Arjeplog, Arvidsjaur, Älvsbyn, Boden and Luleå, representatives of Lulea University of Technology and University of Nordland and the County Governor of Norrbotten Mr. Sven-Erik Österberg. The purpose was to discuss collaborative issues and opportunities and the planned road tunnel construction through Tjernfjellet in Norway. A completed road tunnel will facilitate the conditions for a collaborative project with anticipated start date in 2015.
Enhanced collaboration between northern Sweden and northern Norway to promote regional development and growth of both regions through efficient transportation is expected to bring about an increase in trade and consolidated business development as well as environmental benefits. Foreseen development areas for the collaborative project at an initial stage are business, tourism, transport and logistics, minerals, education, community activities and local politics.
The conference was the first of its kind and was initiated by Britta Flinkfeldt Jansson, Mayor of Arjeplog.
The road tunnel through Tjernfjellet in Norway is scheduled to start in 2015 and be completed autumn 2018. The 3 km tunnel with a rise of 3.5 percent is expected to cost SEK 450 million.
The Silver Road Skellefteå-Bodö - a priority corridor for the Joint Barents Transport Plan
The road tunnel through Tjernfjellet comprises a crucial section of the transport corridor "The Silver Road": Skellefteå-Bodö. The Silver Road Skellefteå-Bodö is pointed out as one of 16 priority corridors of the Joint Barents Transport Plan (September 2013).
This corridor consists of both road and railway (short sections in the Swedish costal area). It starts in Bodö and ends in Skellefteå, and passes through the municipalities of Arjeplog and Arvidsjaur.
It is an important east/west link between the Atlantic coast and the Bay of Bothnia, and also has an important role for the communities along the road. There is little cross-border traffic today, but there is a substantial potential for increase in export/import as the tunnel through the Tjernfjellet is built. The current standard is quite uniform except for this 3 km long stretch of extremely poor standard. This bottleneck makes certain transports impossible and makes heavier transports in general choose other and longer routes.
A satisfactory geometrical standard for the Silver Road Corridor, is listed as one of the main challenges in the Joint Barents Transport Plan. The planned tunnel will greatly enhance the geometrical standard. This in turn will make transports shorter thus reducing transportation costs. It also offers environmental benefits and enhances trade.
The road tunnel creates better and safer transport
Mona Mansour, North Sweden, asked Bo-Erik Ekblom, transport manager at Norrbotten County Adminitrative Board, what a completed road tunnel would mean for transport in the vicinities on the Swedish and the Norwegian side. "It creates a better and safer access to the Silver Road (Highway 95) between Skellefteå and Bodö. It is a boost for both the business community and other transportation within the regions. In the long term there may be a need to review the standard of roads on the Swedish side. The assessment is that it will lead to increased traffic, " Bo-Erik Ekblom summarized.
For more information please contact Mona Mansour, senior adviser North Sweden, in charge of the area Transport Policy North Sweden European Office.
/Mona Mansour & Erica Rönnqvist