For the people of Sandoy and the rest of the Faroes, Christmas comes early this year, with the end of Sandoy’s relative isolation—on December 21st, the new Sandoy Tunnel (Sandoyartunnilin) will finally open to the public, and for a period, driving through it will be toll free.
The opening of the giant undersea tunnel connecting the islands of Sandoy and Streymoy comes a good 20 years after the inauguration of the Faroe Islands’ first such road tunnel, the Vagar Tunnel (Vágatunnilin), which provided a fixed link between the islands Streymoy and Vágoy.
Two more subsea tunnels were added in 2006 and 2020, respectively—the Northern Tunnel (Norðoyatunnilin), between the islands Borðoy and Eysturoy, and the Eysturoy Tunnel (Eysturoyartunnilin) between the islands Eysturoy and Streymoy.
The Sandoy Tunnel, the Faroes’ fourth subsea tunnel, is also the longest road tunnel in the Faroes to date, stretching as far as 10.8 kilometers between Gamlarætt, Streymoy, and Traðardalur, Sandoy.
No wonder many people are excited over the impressive new piece of infrastructure that makes Sandoy part of the socalled Mainland.
Earlier this year, Hanna á Reynatúgvu, a member of the Municipal Council of Sandur, the largest settlement on Sandoy, told Local.fo that local residents there hope to see a change in the downward population trend.
“With this new tunnel, our island will be fully connected to the Mainland, with Tórshavn just half an hour’s drive from here,” she said. “That is a huge change and will bring many possibilities and options.”
Teitur Samuelsen, CEO of government-held tunnel owner and operator Eystur- og Sandoyartunlar, told broadcaster KvF earlier this month that the Sandoy Tunnel will remain toll free for its first 23 days of operation—that is, until January 12th, 2024.
When the Eysturoy Tunnel opened to the public three years ago, using the tunnel was free of charge until for the first 23 days after its inauguration; hence the new tunnel will be tollfree for just as long, he noted.
The combined cost of building the Eysturoy Tunnel and the Sandoy Tunnel, amounts to approximately 2.6 billion DKK (349 million EUR), according to Eystur- og Sandoyartunlar. The toll rate for using the Sandoy Tunnel will be the same as that for using the Eysturoy Tunnel, we’re told.
With the opening of the Sandoy Tunnel, a new bus route has been established to provide scheduled public transport between Sandoy and Tórshavn, ferry and bus operator SSL announced. On the day of the opening, retiring ferry Teistin—one of the only means of public transport between Sandoy and Streymoy for many years—will be making a few final trips between Gamlarætt and Skopun; from 4 to 6 PM the ship will be open to the public at the port in Skopun to offer people a chance to bid the ferry route a proper goodbye.
A grand opening ceremony in the afternoon of December 21st is slated to take place near the mouth of the tunnel at Traðardalur, Sandoy. According to Visit Sandoy, it will feature keynote speeches alongside several events immediately prior to and after the official opening. The events include a public run through the tunnel as well as a bicycle race plus exhibitions, open houses and more.