The Storebælt fixed link

The Storebælt Bridge is a unique piece of engineering, which belongs among the world’s largest bridge and tunnel structures. Two bridges and one tunnel make up the 18 km long fixed link across Storebælt between eastern and western Denmark.

In addition to the two bridges and a tunnel, the Storebælt link also comprises Sprogø Offshore Wind Farm. The two bridges and the tunnel are connected by Sprogø in the middle of Storebælt – a small island, which during the construction work, suddenly quadrupled in size.

The construction of the Storebælt fixed link took place between 1988 and 1998. Thousands of engineers and other professionals were involved in the project. When construction was at its peak at the start of the 1990s, more than 4,000 people were employed at the construction sites around Storebælt.

According to the Construction Act, the link across Storebælt was to be built in two stages: the rail link opening three years before the road link. It was the wish of politicians to give public transport a headstart over road traffic. As construction work progressed, however, it became increasingly apparent that the three year gap was unfeasible. This was partly because of two accidents during the tunnel boring that delayed construction significantly. The rail link opened in 1997 followed one year later by the motorway. Rail traffic, therefore, ended up with a headstart of just one year.

The cost of the link

The cost of constructing  the Storebælt fixed link amounted to DKK 21.4 billion in 1988 prices (corresponding to approximately DKK 38 billion in 2014 prices).

The costs were more or less evenly balanced between the road and rail link.  In addition to the construction costs were the interest expenses, which meant that the total debt at the time of the bridge’s opening in 1998 amounted to approximately DKK 36 billion.

In the first years following the opening of the road link, the debt increased, but it is now being amortised. To cover construction costs, A/S Storebælt has raised loans on Danish and international capital markets. All loans are guaranteed by the Danish state through the state guarantee model, which has helped to achieve favourable borrowing terms.

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