Are These the Cheapest Tunnels in the World?

Yesterday I was directed to an article about the Faroe Islands, which have apparently been on a tunnel-building spree for years. Instead of taking ferries, you can now drive from island to island via tunnel, and the Faroese are quite taken with the whole idea.

That’s all interesting enough, I suppose, but how do they afford this? Their population is only 50,000. How can they afford to build billions of dollars worth of undersea tunnels? The answer is that they don’t build billions of dollars worth of tunnels:

The Vaga tunnel required more complicated engineering works than onshore frozen fish tunnels, but it was still surprisingly cheap and efficient to build. The government provided DKK 160 million ($20.3 million) in financing, while local banks provided the remaining DKK 140 million ($17.8 million), with the tunnel and roads used as their guarantee. “Many people thought that we were crazy when we started to build it, but it showed to be an extremely successful project,” recalled Magni. The tunnel provided a link between the airport and the rest of the island, which was particularly important for the export-oriented fishing industry. “The tunnel is one leg to the global world,” Danielsen described.

They built a two-mile tunnel for $40 million? Granted, it’s a fairly rudimentary tunnel, and it’s not like there are lots of utility lines to worry about, but still. That amount of money wouldn’t buy you the design work for a tunnel in the US, let alone the actual construction. What gives?

Whatever the answer, it strikes me that Elon Musk should offer his services to the Faroe Islands. He claims that he can bore tunnels super efficiently, and this would be a good chance to prove it. Can he build a tunnel even more cheaply than the Faroe Islanders can already do it? He should put his money where his mouth is and let us know if he can really do it.

One More Thing

And it's a big one. Mother Jones is launching a new Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on the corruption that is both the cause and result of the crisis in our democracy.

The more we thought about how Mother Jones can have the most impact right now, the more we realized that so many stories come down to corruption: People with wealth and power putting their interests first—and often getting away with it.

Our goal is to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We're aiming to create a reporting position dedicated to uncovering corruption, build a team, and let them investigate for a year—publishing our stories in a concerted window: a special issue of our magazine, video and podcast series, and a dedicated online portal so they don't get lost in the daily deluge of headlines and breaking news.

We want to go all in, and we've got seed funding to get started—but we're looking to raise $500,000 in donations this spring so we can go even bigger. You can read about why we think this project is what the moment demands and what we hope to accomplish—and if you like how it sounds, please help us go big with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate