"Nothing has been done"
“I find it incomprehensible that local transportation in the area is in the situation we find us in now,” Örlygur Hnefill Jónsson, a lawyer, former deputy MP and former chairman of the board of the Icelandic Regional Development Institute, says of the situation in the transportation sector in Northeast Iceland, Morgunbladid reports.
On June 1st, new regulations for driving over the bridge crossing Skjálfandafljót river by Ófeigsstaðir in Kaldakinn entered into force. The bridge is now only open to passenger cars, but trucks and passenger buses are not permitted to cross the bridge and instead have to travel round the ring road, via Fljótsheiði and Aðaldalsvegur, a route that is 5.5 kilometres longer.
Jónsson says that it is important that the river Skjálfandafljót is a well - bridged river, especially since it is a shorter route. “The bridge was built in 1935 at the urging of Jónas from Hrifla, but since then, little has changed. Today, all we have is a broken bridge that is being closed. This bridge serves as an important link to Akureyri to Húsavík, as well as other settlements east of Húsavík. By only pulling a straight course from Ljósvetningabúð to Húsavík, the route from Akureyri to Húsavík could be shortened by seven miles.”
Planning that the bridge will be operational by 2028
Heavy traffic had previously been restricted through the bridge while it was strengthened, in construction between 2015 and 2016. The construction of the bridge is now scheduled for construction by the Icelandic Road Administration in 2026, and the work is in progress. A new bridge is set to be operational in 2028. Their plans include ideas of a road-shortening and moving the bridge north.
Jónsson says that infrastructure reforms in the North-East are long over due.
“Country-wide, good transport plays a key role in a responsible regional policy and in the sustainable use of resources and employment opportunities. Nothing has been done to improve the road map for the northern route. I have been raising the issue for decades, including in the form of a question on the Icelandic parliamentary committee, which is concerned with transport reform in the region.
A no nonsense road shortcut could easily shorten the route by 50 to 50 kilometres. Responsible regional policy in a part of the country like Northeast is crucial for the Icelandic nation. The revenue potential of the Diamond Ring alone should be enough to convince people of the importance of strengthening local infrastructure,” Jónsson stated.
At the Diamond Ring which is 250 kilometres long, there are five key destinations; Goðafoss, Mývatn, Dettifoss, Ásbyrgi and Húsavík.