Denmark and Germany To Be Linked By 11-Mile Underwater Tunnel

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A designer's rendering of the tunnel underneath the Fehmarn Belt strait planned to connect Germany and Denmark

DPA/ Femern A/S

Ninety years in the making, plans for a bridge over Fehmarn Belt strait have sunk, literally. The passage will now be a tunnel.

The roundabout, a four-and-a-half-hour drive from Hamburg, Germany to Copenhagen, Denmark will become a straight shot, cutting the travel time to roughly three hours. And dredging a tunnel underneath the body of water will have a lower environmental impact and fewer weather-related issues than a bridge.

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Denmark’s island nature makes it a struggle for the small country to stay connected, particularly to Germany, with nearly 20% of Denmark’s exports heading to its southern neighbor. But only 1.5% of the behemoth Bavaria’s exports head to north. Given the disparity, it’s no surprise that Germany is expecting Denmark to foot the bill – to the tune of an estimated €5.1 billion ($6.9 billion).

Though drivers eager to race through the 18-kilometer (11-mile) underwater Autobahn will have a handful of years to wait. Workers aren’t scheduled to break ground until 2014, and the roadway won’t be open until 2020. But when the link is complete, travelers will be able to pass between the two countries by car or by train, as a high-speed rail tunnel is also part of the plan.

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But the tunnel’s importance will likely float above its massive cost – it’s already being heralded as the “final great sea connection.” (via Der Spiegel)