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While tunnels are a fascinating subject, they aren’t the best places to handle car breakdowns. The longest tunnels in the world span for miles on end, thus, it would be hard to get repair services on such pathways. All around the world, nations are increasingly adopting road tunnels as a means to beat the traffic gridlock. To celebrate the opening of the Mont Blanc Tunnel on 19 July 1965 here is a list of some of the longest road tunnels in the world.
Mont Blanc Tunnel
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The term Mont Blanc means “White Mountain.” The historic tunnel gets its name from the highest mountain the Alps mountain range of Europe, Mont Blanc. The two-lane dual direction tunnel stretching a distance of 11.61 kilometers or 7.21 miles (about the size of Mackinac Island), serves as a direct link between the Aosta Valley of Italy with Haute-Savoie of France. Interestingly, Mont Blanc Tunnel is about one-and-one-tenth times as tall as the Challenger Deep in the Marianas Trench. The Mont Blanc road tunnel was officially opened to members of the public in 1965 after laborious work commenced on the Italian side in 1946. During construction, the tunnel’s full diameter was drilled and blasted. The two firms responsible for the construction project were ATMB of France and SITMB of Italy.
Notably, a freak fire accident in 1999 that resulted in the deaths of 39 people meant that the tunnel had to be closed down for repair works costing $514m until 2002. At present, the tunnel is equipped with a computerized system to analyze data from some safety equipment like heat sensors and cameras.
Laerdal Tunnel, Norway
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Considered the world’s longest road tunnel, the Laerdal tunnel in Norway spans an incredible 24.5 kilometers or 15.22 miles, roughly about two-and-a-half times as tall as Mauna Loa in Hawaii. The single tube road tunnel features two-way traffic that stretches the expanse between Laerdal valley and the county of Aurland.
Estimates show that over a period of 5 years, construction took about $114m of funding. Given Norway’s mountainous terrain, in 1992, the country’s parliament found it feasible to make investments in tunnel construction instead of making road refurbishments. The project completed in 2000.
Zhongnanshan Tunnel, China
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Running through the Qinling Mountains in Shaanxi province of China, lies the Zhongnanshan tunnel, a twin-tube channel. The road tunnel spans 18.02 kilometers or 11.2 miles, about twice the height of Mount Everest. After about five years of construction and $410m spent, the road tunnel opened in 2007 to members of the public. On average, the two tubes of road tunnel facilitate vehicles to travel on four lanes at maximum speeds of 80 km/h. All the 6m-high tubes are well differentiated with brightly colored and patterned lighting to ensure that drivers always stay alert and reduce eye strain while on the road.
St. Gotthard Tunnel, Switzerland
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The fantastic road tunnel situated in Switzerland opened in 1980 after almost a decade of construction. The tunnel stretches across 16.94 kilometers or 10.53 miles, which is about two-and-a-half times as long as The Las Vegas Strip.
On average, estimates show that the road tunnel that snakes through the Gotthard mountains is used by about 17,000 vehicles every day. At times, the single tube road tunnel experiences massive traffic jams at the north and south end sections of the tunnel. Plans are currently underway to ease the traffic situation by constructing a secondary road tunnel through the Gotthard mountain range before 2027.
Gudvangen Tunnel, Norway
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Norway based Gudvangen road tunnel lies in the municipal limits of Aurland in Sogn og Fjordane County, connecting the Gudvangen village with the Undredalen valley. The two-lane road tunnel has a length of 11.42 kilometers or 7.1 miles, which represents about one-and-nine-tenths times as tall as Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Commissioned in 1991, the Gudvangen road tunnel forms a section of the European Route E16 connecting Bergen with Oslo. Markedly, the road tunnel had to be temporarily closed down in August 2013 before it was reopened in September 2013 after a fire accident.
Baojiashan Tunnel, China
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The Baojiashan Tunnel is composed of two tubes that run 11.18 kilometers or 6.95 miles long; about three times as long as the Daytona International Speedway in Florida. The road tunnel is part of the G30 motorway which serves as a link between Khorgas near the Kazakhstan border and Lianyungang in north-east China.
The tunnel opened in 2009 after intense, yet controlled blasting technology was employed. At the time of opening, the road tunnel was the third longest double-walled tunnel in China. Conspicuously, the Baojiashan Tunnel is situated about 100 kilometers south of the longer Zhongnanshan tunnel.
Fréjus Road Tunnel
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This landmark road tunnel connects France and Italy through the Northern Alps. After about 2 billion francs were spent in construction, and about seven years of construction, the Fréjus road tunnel opened in 1980. The Fréjus road tunnel has a length of 12.87 kilometers or 8 miles; which translates to about three-and-a-half times as long as The Hollywood Walk of Fame in California. Construction of the tunnel bores was driven by the blasting of explosives through the Alps. On the French section, the tunnel features a single vertical shaft while the Italian end has two shafts for ventilation. The road tunnel has two traffic lanes that are continuously monitored by 220 cameras to ensure safety.
Arlberg Road Tunnel, Austria
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Located in Austria, the Arlberg single tube road tunnel forms a part of the Arlberg highway before crossing over to the Arlberg mountain ranges. Coincidentally, the road tunnel links Vorarlberg, situated to the west of Austria, with Tyrol province to the east. Mean numbers show that the road tunnel is used by more than 8,000 vehicles a day. Remarkably, the tunnel is 13.92 kilometers or 8.65 miles; about seven times as long as The Kentucky Derby. Many travelers consider the route as being the safest path to follow during winter because it features more than 40 monitoring video cameras and eight escape routes. Renovation works are currently underway to improve the current safety standards of the road.
Maijishan Tunnel, China
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Situated on the G30 Expressway in Gansu province of China, the Maijishan tunnel is a twin tube, a four-lane tunnel that extends through the main ridge of the Qinglin Mountain. During the initial years, the road tunnel went by the name Dapingli before it was renamed to Maijishan. After about four years of construction, the Maijishan tunnel was opened up in 2009. Noticeably, the road tunnel features subsection ventilation that is used to meet the airflow necessities of the tunnel.
Hsuehshan Tunnel, Taiwan
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Opened to the public in 2006, the Hsuehshan road tunnel serves as a great link between the Yilan and Taipei counties of Taiwan. Construction work took the Chinese owned RSEA about 15 years to complete due to some difficulties navigating the terrain of the Hsuehshan mountain range. The two-tube road tunnel stretches about 12.94 kilometers or 8.04 miles; roughly one-tenth as long as the Panama Canal. Automated cameras are used to monitor the speed, lane-changers, and tailgaters all through the tunnel. Fascinatingly, the presence of two FM channels makes traveling through the route a breeze since they act as a source of information and entertainment.