Man made tunnels allow us to overcome numerous natural obstacles, such as ponds and mountains, that would otherwise be much more difficult to traverse.
The engineers that have designed some of the more modern tunnels have equipped them with complex designs including underground road junctions, intersections, and roundabouts.
This article will introduce you to the 10 longest automobile tunnels in the world.
- 1. Lærdal
- 2. Yamate Tunnel
- 3. Zhongnanshan Tunnel
- 4. Jinpingshan Tunnel
- 5. St. Gotthard
- 6. Mount Ovit Tunnel
- 7. Arlberg Road Tunnel
- 8. Xishan Tunnel
- 9. Hongtiguan Tunnel
- 10. Hsuehshan
The longest car tunnel in the world is Lærdal, which is 24.51 km in length. Lærdal is located in Norway, and connects Lærdal and Aurland in Sogn og Fjordane.
The drive through this tunnel takes a total of twenty minutes. The engineers who designed it understood how stressful traveling through Lærdal might be for some drivers. With this in mind, they divided Lærdal into four sections, separated by three distinct mountain caves. These caves are equipped with blue and yellow lighting that mimics natural daylight. This helps to give drivers a mental break, and relief from any feelings of claustrophobia.
2. Yamate Tunnel
Number two on our list is Yamate Tunnel, which is located in Tokyo, Japan. This tunnel was completed in 2015 with a total length of 18.20 km. The Yamate Tunnel carries the Shuto Expressway from Toshima to Shinagawa.
This tunnel may have taken years to complete, but it is chock-full of design features to ensure safety. These include emergency telephones, security cameras, fire extinguishers, foam sprayers, and infrared sensors strategically placed throughout the length of the tunnel.
3. Zhongnanshan Tunnel
The third longest car tunnel in the world is Zhongnanshan Tunnel, with a total length of 18.04 km. It is part of the G65, Xi'an-Zhashui Expressway, located in Shaanxi, China.
The total construction costs for this project totaled over 3.2 billion yuan ($410 USD). Though it came with a high price tag, Zhongnanshan tunnel is currently the longest two tube commuter road tunnel in China.
4. Jinpingshan Tunnel
Number four on our list is Jinpingshan Tunnel, which is located in Sichuan, China. Construction of this project was completed in 2011, and gave the tunnel a total length of 17.54 km.
Jinpingshan Tunnel was designed with two tubes, so it would be able to handle more commuter traffic safely.
5. St. Gotthard
The fifth longest car tunnel in the world is St. Gotthard in Switzerland. St. Gotthard has a total length of 16.918 km, running from Göschenen to Airolo. This is a major pass of the Swiss Alps, and held the record for ‘World’s Longest Car Tunnel’ from 1980 until 2000.
St. Gotthard is not built to withstand the same amount of traffic as the other tunnels we have mentioned. This is because it is only equipped with one bidirectional tube with two singular lanes. However, it is significant as one of the three tunnels which connects the Swiss Plateau to southern Switzerland (along with the Gotthard Tunnel and the Gotthard Base Tunnel).
6. Mount Ovit Tunnel
Number six on our list is Mount Ovit Tunnel located between İkizdere, Rize Province and İspir, Erzurum Province in Turkey. This tunnel was completed in 2018 with a total length of 14.346 km.
The tunnel cuts through Ovit Mountain at an elevation of 2,640 meters. It is the second longest highway tunnel in Turkey, after New Mount Zigana Tunnel.
7. Arlberg Road Tunnel
The seventh longest car tunnel in the world is the Arlberg tunnel located in Austria. The total length of the tunnel is 13.972 km. Construction was completed in 1978 with a total cost of 4 billion Austrian Schillings (approximately $330 million USD).
In 1979 the tunnel gained the title of ‘World’s Longest Car Tunnel’, but only held that record until 1980.
Arlberg is a toll road, and costs €11 per one way trip. Despite this price, over 18 million people use this tunnel each year. Perhaps part of this is the over 40 traffic cameras inside, providing the insurance of safe driving while traveling through the Arlberg tunnel.
8. Xishan Tunnel
Number eight on our list is the Xishan Tunnel, which has a total length of 13.654 km, or 8.5 miles. This tunnel is located on the S56 Shanxi Taiyuan-Gujiao Expressway.
Xishan Tunnel was completed in 2012, and is the second longest automobile tunnel in the Shaanxi province of China.
9. Hongtiguan Tunnel
The ninth longest car tunnel in the world is the Hongtiguan Tunnel located in China. This project began in 2009 and was completed in 2013. The total length of this tunnel spans over 13.122 km.
This tunnel is part of the S76 Shanxi Changzhi-Pingshun Expressway, and is built to allow two lanes of traffic to flow in each direction. Hongtiguan has a maximum depth of 589 meters, and is designed for driving speeds of 80km/h.
Number ten on our list is Hsuehshan, or "Snow Mountain" tunnel. Located on the Taipei-Yilan Freeway, this is the longest tunnel in Taiwan, with a total length of 12.942 km.
Hsuehshan was built in 2006 in order to connect residents on the western coast of Taiwan (which accounts for approximately 95% of the population), to the eastern coast. The project was successful cutting through the Xueshan Mountain Range, to connect New Taipei to Yilan County.