Why motorway lanes in Norway could get narrower

The government is to allow construction of new four-lane dual carriageway roads with smaller lanes to be allowed on some stretches.

Why motorway lanes in Norway could get narrower
Illustration photo: Bernt Rostad/Flickr

Four-lane roads in Norway could soon be built on quieter stretches, but with smaller lanes than busier motorways. Roads termed ‘four-lane' (firefeltsveier) have four lanes in total – in other words, two in each direction.

Currently, roads which see traffic of between 6,000-12,000 vehicles daily are built as two or three-lane roads, but four-lane roads are now to be permitted on stretches of road with this type of traffic flow, Norwegian news agency NTB reports.

Four-lane roads with these traffic levels will be required to have a total width of 19.0 to 21.5 meters in total, including emergency lane widths of between 1.5 and 2 metres, according to NTB’s report. The speed limit of the four-lane roads will be a maximum of 110 kilometres per hour.

New regulations will make also it possible to build narrower four-lane roads on stretches with traffic of 12,000-20,000 vehicles daily. On these roads, the total width must be 20.0-23.0 metres, including emergency lanes of 2-2.75 metres. The speed limit for these roads is also 110 kilometres per hour.

“We are interested in listening to the experts. That’s why we follow the recommendations of the Norwegian Public Roads Administration (Statens vegvesen) on introducing the option of building narrow four-lane roads. This gives greater flexibility for extending Norwegian roads and can increase the economic benefit for society of several projects,” transport minister Knut Arild Hareide told NTB.

“As such, we will get more for everyone’s money,” Hareide added.

READ ALSO: Why Norway is warning drivers about 'egg-shaped' bends

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Why the cost of toll roads in Norway’s major cities could increase

The cost of using roads in Norway's biggest cities could increase due to the governemnt changing the rules for the funding it gives local authorities to spend on transport and tolls.

Why the cost of toll roads in Norway’s major cities could increase

Norway’s government has changed an agreement on local transport funding introduced under the previous administration, public broadcaster NRK reports.   

As a result, money earmarked for reducing tolls or freezing prices in Oslo, Bergen, Stavanger, and Trondheim can now be spent elsewhere. 

The government has changed the existing agreement on transport funding, which was introduced due to toll roads being a heated topic during the 2019 municipal election, to allow local authorities to increase the cost of using roads to fund other transport improvements. 

“The change means that local authorities will have greater freedom to adjust toll rates. But it must be assessed in each individual case whether local changes to the toll system will require a new submission to the Storting,” the Ministry of Transport and Communications told NRK. 

Essentially the change means that the central government contribution to urban growth planning in cities used for keeping toll road prices down has been axed. 

This means that Norway’s big cities will have around 3.7 billion collectively over the next seven years that had been allocated to reduce tolls that can now be spent on other transport projects. 

However, local councils will have to agree on how the money should be spent and whether they want to increase tolls or not. 

“If local governing authorities want to change the use of the grant funds, it must be dealt with locally politically,” the Ministry of Transport and Communications said. 

Toll prices could go up from next year if local authorities choose to raise prices, according to the ministry. Newspaper Bergens Tidende reported in June that toll rates in Bergen would return to 2020 levels. In Oslo, local politicians have signalled that they are unwilling to decrease the cost of using toll roads.