You may think taking the new tunnel in North Iceland will save you time, but it’s just as likely that it won’t, and it will cost you.
Vaðlaheiðargöng is a newly completed tunnel on Route 1 just east of Akureyri in North Iceland. While it is supposed to shorten the travel time between Akureyri and Húsavík by about 16km, observant tourism industry workers have spotted what they have described as a “trap”.
In Bakland Ferðaþjónustunnar, a Facebook group for Icelandic tourism industry workers, an admin made a post about the tunnel that points out two key pieces of information that locals and tourists alike should be aware of.
The first is the toll fee. While the toll is only 1,500 ISK for cars (and 6,000 ISK for trucks over 3.5 tonnes), this is paid online at tunnel.is. If it is not paid within three hours, you get a 66% fine, taking your new total to 2,500 ISK. The second point is that the option to take the old route between Akureyri and Húsavík—Víkurskarðið—still exists and is free, but is not posted on the road signs in the area, giving the impression that one has no choice but to take the tunnel.
Further, the admin pointed out that the tunnel only saves you about ten minutes of travel time. When the time it takes to go online and pay the toll is factored in, you save very little time at all using the tunnel, but you do spend money.
Numerous tourism industry workers commenting on the post expressed frustration with the tunnel and this arrangement, which is unsurprising. The tunnel itself has been harshly criticised as being costly, unprofitable, and an obvious ploy to appeal to the local constituency. Wary travellers should have in mind that you can still drive the usual route between Akureyri and Húsavík; it may involve a couple minutes extra travel time, but all it will cost you is petrol.
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