Are These the Cheapest Tunnels in the World?

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

Yesterday I was directed to an article about the Faroe Islands, which have apparently been on a tunnel-building spree for years. Instead of taking ferries, you can now drive from island to island via tunnel, and the Faroese are quite taken with the whole idea.

That’s all interesting enough, I suppose, but how do they afford this? Their population is only 50,000. How can they afford to build billions of dollars worth of undersea tunnels? The answer is that they don’t build billions of dollars worth of tunnels:

The Vaga tunnel required more complicated engineering works than onshore frozen fish tunnels, but it was still surprisingly cheap and efficient to build. The government provided DKK 160 million ($20.3 million) in financing, while local banks provided the remaining DKK 140 million ($17.8 million), with the tunnel and roads used as their guarantee. “Many people thought that we were crazy when we started to build it, but it showed to be an extremely successful project,” recalled Magni. The tunnel provided a link between the airport and the rest of the island, which was particularly important for the export-oriented fishing industry. “The tunnel is one leg to the global world,” Danielsen described.

They built a two-mile tunnel for $40 million? Granted, it’s a fairly rudimentary tunnel, and it’s not like there are lots of utility lines to worry about, but still. That amount of money wouldn’t buy you the design work for a tunnel in the US, let alone the actual construction. What gives?

Whatever the answer, it strikes me that Elon Musk should offer his services to the Faroe Islands. He claims that he can bore tunnels super efficiently, and this would be a good chance to prove it. Can he build a tunnel even more cheaply than the Faroe Islanders can already do it? He should put his money where his mouth is and let us know if he can really do it.

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate