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Connecting 5 islands: ‘Norway’s most spectacular construction project ever’

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How Skanska won the project

With a landscape like Norway’s, a neighbouring village can be near and far at the same time. Roads can bring people closer together. The new Nordøyvegen, or North Island Road, will connect 5 islands to the mainland. It will bring the approximately 10,000 inhabitants in the municipalities of Haram and Sandøy closer together.

In the autumn of 2018, the Norwegian Public Roads Administration appointed Skanska as the general contractor. Working with MAGNET Project, Skanska arrived at the best project implementation plan and the best competitive price in the bidding phase, achieving a 50 million euro deduction and winning the project. The project began in early 2019.

Benefiting citizens and boosting local business

“We call this Norway’s most spectacular construction project ever,” says Gregorz Gucwa, Deputy Project Manager for Skanska. “This project involves absolutely all elements of civil engineering. It’s got long sub-sea level tunnels, long bridges, large sea fillings. Enormous amounts of equipment and resources are used in this project.”

Three bridges, three tunnels, and a great number of roads make up the project. Connecting Nordøyvegen to the mainland will be of great benefit to the community, says Marianne Næro, project manager for Norway’s Public Roads Administration. “The people here are dependent on ferries to reach the mainland. The ferries don’t always operate due to scheduling and weather. Their daily lives will be made easier when they can drive to the mainland, toll free, whenever they want, without ferries.”

“Furthermore, Nordøyvegen will boost local business, as well as enabling locals to cooperate in the areas of schools, health care and other governmental services,” says Næro, who is confident the new connections will bring more tourists to the North Islands.

“Citizens’ daily lives will be made easier when they can drive to the mainland whenever they want.”

Marianne Næro, Norwegian Public Roads Administration

Rock transport as the most critical phase

Such an immense project comes with multiple challenges. Since the purpose is to use the masses produced in the tunnel excavation in seafills, mass haul planning and scheduling is a critical success factor.

The logistics are challenging, says Gregorz Gucwa. “The islands are far apart from each other and far from the mainland. That’s why a lot of resources go into planning, synchronising all activities to help the project run as smoothly as possible.

“The most challenging aspect of this project is to excavate enough rock to make a stable base in the sea to build a bridge,” says Mehdi Hosseini, project planner for Skanska. “The rock comes from three to four tunnels which are currently being worked on.”

And so, all main operations of the project are connected. “If the tunnel excavation is held up or delayed, then the movement of rock will be delayed. That will, in turn, affect the sea fill schedule for building the bridge foundations and that delay will hinder the bridge-building team. So, in a way, the excavation of rock is the most critical stage.”

“The question was: what kind of software can help us plan the excavation of rock?” Hosseini summarizes. “MAGNET helped us map out the material available to us through tunneling, as well as how much mass was needed to fill specific parts of the seabed. It was also useful for optimizing the rock transportation.”

“A great advantage is the ability to gather all your information in one place.”

Gregorz Gucwa, Skanska Norway

Insight into various activities at once

“We used MAGNET during the bidding stage to understand the magnitude of the project. To visualise how the different elements of the projects are supposed to work, how to best follow through, and how to choose the correct strategy. How to be in control of the different elements, which are usually difficult to manage,” Gregorz Gucwa explains.

He adds: “A great advantage is the ability to gather all your information in one place. You can check in on what’s happening on different locations daily. You can also see how various activities interact and progress.”

“Traditionally, it was useful to visualize a project in a Gantt chart,” says Mehdi Hosseini. “However, with a project as big as Nordøyvegen, it was difficult to include all operations and how they intersect. With MAGNET, however, it’s possible to show the whole project on one page, so everyone can see what the building stages are and when they start. It’s harder to discover activity clashes when you have several pages of a project.”

Nordøyvegen is set to be completed in May 2022. In roughly three years, these brand new roads, bridges and tunnels will connect the five islands to the rest of the country, and make them a more attractive area of interest. A spectacular project indeed.