Norway: road building at -15 – Russian ‘bonnet cock’

Road building in Norway doesn’t stop just because it gets a bit cold. Ukraine’s Automaidan have a joke at Sochi’s expense (apparently); a Russian driver gets a nasty surprise; more problems for Eurotunnel engineers, Italian commuters to get toll discounts – and more coach crash tragedies in Turkey.

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NORWAY: ROAD BUILDING AT -15 DEGREES.

‘Just get on with it.’

Roads engineer Jarle Sperle working on E16 this week. Pic via www.vegvesen.no

Roads engineer Jarle Sperle working on E16 this week. Pic via www.vegvesen.no

Norwegian drivers cannot afford to let cold weather get in their way, and neither can the country’s road builders. If they did, they wouldn’t ever get anything done.

A great case in point is the on-going realignment of E16, the Kongevegen ‘King’s Highway’ over the Filefjell mountainous region in south central Norway.

Even when the temperature dips to -15 degrees, as it did this week, work carries on.

E16 is an ancient route, named after King Sverre in the 10th century. Up until 1830 the monarch actually paid innkeepers along E16 to provide food and shelter to travellers. Today it is still the main road between the east and west, Oslo and Bergen.

The section they are working on at the moment is around 15km between Borlaug and Smedalsosen. This is just part of a NOK3bn project to rejuvenate E16 in Filefjell. The work won’t rule out column driving completely during the worst of the weather – E16 is already one of the most reliable mountain passes in Norway – but it should make the road easier to manage during the winter.

Borlaugstunnelen: the 4,050m tunnel was dug last year. Now there's just thepaving to fiish and the DAB radio reception to install.

Borlaugstunnelen: the 4,050m tunnel was dug last year. Electrical circuits to support DAB radio reception are currently being installed.

It surely helps weatherwise that most road construction in Norway inevitably involves some tunnelling. Further east on E16 is the Laerdal Tunnel, the world’s longest at 24.5km.

A major part of this project is digging the 4,050m Borlaugstunnelen. The boring was completed last January and by now it’s half paved. Currently they are well into the electrical fitting out; Boraugstunnelen will be the world’s first to be wired up for DAB radio reception.

Laying tarmac is obviously impossible with inches of ice on the ground but apart from that there are bridges and roundabouts to build and connecting roads to clear. Retaining walls, made of stone blocks, also need to be laid on many sections. During this work there is absolutely no shelter from the elements.

Apparently there are no special techniques for dealing with the conditions other than ‘just getting on with it,’ says engineer Jarle Sperle. There isn’t a temperature below which they would stop working either, or if there is they haven’t found it yet.

Most of southern Norway has been under amber weather alert so far this year, not just for snow but high winds and storms too. Despite all this, this new section of E16 is still on course to open in late autumn, just in time for next winter.

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Ukraine Welcomes the Sochi Olympics: this picture via @Belpartisan is currently doing the rounds with many commentators finding it hilariously funny. We don't get the joke. Perhaps all will become clear next Thursday when the Games kick off.

‘Ukraine Welcomes the Sochi Olympics’: this picture via @Belpartisan is currently doing the rounds with many commentators finding it hilariously funny. We don’t get it. Perhaps all will become clear when the Games kick off next Thursday.

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roundup: EUROTUNNEL. More Channel Tunnel workers have suffered carbon monoxide poisoning during overnight rail replacement works. Nineteen were hospitalised on Saturday night and another thirteen last night. One man is reported to be ‘seriously affected’ though none of the injuries are said to be life threatening. The company is yet to make a statement. ITALY. Commuters will get a 20% discount on road tolls for journeys up to 50km each way from next month until the end of 2015 announced transport minister Maurizio Lupi. The move comes after widespread discontent and demonstrations over New Year price hikes. TURKEY. Two more serious coach crashes this morning after last week’s tragedy which claimed 21 lives. One overturned due to ice near Edirne injuring ten. Nine were killed and thirty injured overnight, in Sivas province, on the way from Ercis to Ankara. Inadequate tyres and lack of road side guardrails are being blamed at this stage.

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RUSSIA: perpetrators as yet unknown chained and bolted a huge phallus to the bonnet of satirical blog writer 'Perzident Roissi' - aka @KermlinRussia.

RUSSIA: perpetrators as yet unknown chained and bolted a huge, carved wooden phallus to the car belonging to satirical political blogger @KermlinRussia this morning. ‘In my opinion,’ tweets ‘Perzident Roissi’ (Russia), ‘Somebody doesn’t like what I write.’ Update 30.01.14: still no sign of who went to these lengths to symbolise their displeasure.

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