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Tunnel need illustrated by avalanche closure

17.01.2022 - 09:39
Mynd: Jóhannes Jónsson / RÚV
Bragi Þór Thoroddsen, administrative mayor of Súðavíkurhreppur, in the Westfjords, says the closure of Súðavíkurhlíð road due to avalanches, or the risk of avalanches, is a serious problem. 25 people en-route to communities further north had to spend the night in Súðavík last night when the road closed due to avalanches. The road is still closed this morning. Residents of Súðavík, and the wider Westfjords region, want a tunnel right away.

Bragi says the road north of Súðavík is frequently dangerous, thanks to avalanche and also falling rocks. “It’s a matter of time when someone will be taken away by the avalanches, and that is not something we want to hang around and wait for.” 

The avalanches were triggered by rapidly rising temperatures on Sunday evening, following significant snowfall earlier in the weekend. The temperature in Súðavík at the time of writing is 8°C. The road between Ísafjörður and Hnífsdalur is also still closed for the same reason. 

Around 25 people travelling north had to stay in Súðavík overnight when the road was closed. “It is a bit unfortunate, on top of the ten-person assembly limit, to have 25 extra people in the village. We are not well-prepared for this sort of thing, though we have some facilities. But it’s just the sports hall and to open all the storage space we can put beds in, and get people to work on it, and that’s what happened last night,” Bragi explains. 

He adds that January is always a hard month for his community, as it marks the anniversary of the deadly 1995 avalanche that struck the village. 

A new road tunnel to connect Álftafjörður and Súðavík to Skutulsfjörður and the town of Ísafjörður is planned, but that a start date for work is still not confirmed. Bragi says the Westfjords region cannot wait many more years, or even decades.  

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