The bridge where yesterday’s fatal accident occurred, in which three died, has been the scene of 14 accidents since 2000, two of them serious. The Icelandic Road Administration says they want to get rid of single-lane bridges altogether.
Guðmundur Valur Guðmundsson, the director of the Icelandic Road Administration, told Fréttablaðið that yesterday’s accident puts pressure on Iceland’s existing infrastructure plans, saying, “Single-lane bridges can invite accidents, and as such it is the goal of our transportation plans to get rid of them altogether.” The danger of these bridges is further compounded by an increase in tourism.
Replacing these bridges may be easier said than done. As Grapevine reported in 2016, data gathered by the Ministry of the Interior shows that there are in total 715 single-lane bridges in Iceland, and 39 of them can be found on the Ring Road. Of those, 30 can be found on the 300-kilometre stretch between Kirkjubæjarklaustur and Djúpavogur.
Furthermore, about a fourth of Iceland’s single-lane bridges are over 60 years old, and do not meet established requirements for safety and weight tolerance.
Súla, the bridge where the accident took place, was built in 1973. Originally it was a wooden bridge, and is the second-longest bridge in the country at 420 metres long. Ólafur Guðmundsson, a traffic safety expert, told listeners of the radio programme Reykjavík siðdegis yesterday that the condition of this bridge leaves much to be desired. He points out that the steel barriers on either side of the bridge do not meet safety standards, and the steel mesh laid over the wooden surface is often slippery when wet.
The exact cause of the crash is still unknown, but RÚV reports that police hope to speak with the accident survivors today.
As reported, the seven passengers of the Toyota Land Cruiser that fell from the bridge were comprised of four adults and three children, representing two families. Two women and one child died, with two men and two children, aged seven and nine, surviving with serious injuries. It has now come to light that the two men are brothers, and the women were their respective spouses.