Demand for a road around the Dalsfjord
The demand for a continuous road on the north side of the Dalsfjord was forwarded by the communications board and the municipal council of Askvoll in 1932, and in 1933 Gaular municipality joined in. Fjaler municipality, on the other hand, wanted a ferry service from Eikenes to Dale and a road eastwards on the south side to Osen (Bygstad). The issue was postponed for further study and pending the compensation plan (financial compensation for lack of railway in the county of Sogn og Fjordane). In the final proposal, none of the roads were included, but Dale-Osen was given an allocation in the ordinary county budget in 1938-39.
Plan for a road on the north side was not shelved
In 1939, a rural road was built from Sunde to Laukeland along the north side of the Dalsfjord. When the road Dale-Osen was finished in the 1950s, the wish emerged for a road from Laukeland on to Eikenes, to connect the communities on the north side and the south side of the Dalsfjord. In 1962, 1200 signatures were collected in support of this. In 1967, the county council gave the road Laukeland-Eikenes top place on the priority list of state road projects for the period 1970-79.
Controversy over priorities in the municipal council
Meanwhile, plans for a road between Askvoll and Førde, along the Førdefjord, had appeared. The municipal council of Askvoll was split on the question of the road location. A popular meeting at Askvoll demanded that the Askvoll peninsula be given a road toward the north, along the Førdefjord instead of along the Dalsfjord. The support for the "north side road" along the Dalsfjord was thus weakened.
From "north side road" to bridge project
In 1970, the Storting (national parliament) in connection with document no. 14 (Norwegian roads plan), decided that a bridge should be built across the Dalsfjord in the 1980s. When the roads plan came up for revision in 1973, the Dalsfjord question was raised again. The state now wanted to have a road built from the ferry quay at Eikenes and eastwards to Otterstein with a temporary ferry service between Otterstein and Dale, until a bridge could be built across the fjord from Otterstein to Nishammar. The plan now envisaged a finished bridge around 1981.
The road Eikenes-Otterstein
The road was regarded as an important part of the road system for the Askvoll peninsula, with a population of around 4600, and a sizeable industry. The bridge would make redundant the ferry service Dale-Eikenes, a crossing taking 25 minutes. In 1974, the work on the road from Eikenes toward Nishammar was started. Some of the money was from extraordinary jobs creation funds. The road Eikenes-Nishammar was in 1973 estimated at NOK 21 million.
The grants were stopped
Four kilometres of road and tunnels were built in all before the project was stopped by the Storting in 1981. 1500 metres of road and tunnels were still not finished. The cause of the stoppage was disagreement between the county council and the Ministry of Transport and Communications. The county council refused to take a stand on the progression of the project because the ministry, with the Storting behind it, had chosen a more expensive solution than the "north side road", which the county council favoured. The Storting had not given the county extra grants, which the county council had demanded.
"The scandal road" a political problem
In the Norwegian roads plan for the period 1982-85, NOK 50 million originally meant for the project, was transferred to other projects such as bridge across the Norddalsfjord, road along the Hyefjord , and road improvements in Hyllestad. But the unfinished road became a political problem. The Dalsfjord project was postponed indefinitely and would be considered in later revisions of the Norwegian roads plan. Very little happened, however. "The scandal road", which had cost NOK 13 million, has since 1981 been unused and stops at a mountain wall. Activist groups have ever since worked hard to get the Dalsfjord bridge on the agenda for state appropriations.
Pro and anti bridge
One of the arguments used against a bridge has been that the traffic is too light, if the ferry traffic is the basis. Around 1995, the Public Roads Administration made a project report based on traffic prognoses from the SINTEF. The predictions were based on the number of jobs on each side of the fjord, the secondary school at Dale, and the indoor sports facility. And a higher number was arrived at. In 2006, a municipal area plan is in progress, in which the bridge is a part. The Public Roads Administration has analysed three preliminary eventualities: the Dalsfjord bridge, a new and shorter ferry service, and the existing ferry service. When the planning is completed, the cost of the projects will be more exact.
Favourable decision by the county council
When considering the action plan of the Norwegian traffic plan (NTP) for 2006-2015, the majority in the county council in 2005 wanted to give priority to the Dalsfjord bridge. The Senterpartiet, the Arbeidarpartiet (labour), and Høgre (conservatives) were able to establish a majority for the complete financing of the Dalsfjord bridge. They assumed that construction would be started in 2009. The Public Roads Administration had suggested state road 60 Olden-Innvik be given priority, since there had been a strong wish in the political parties to give priority to existing roads. State road 60 has a standard unfit for the traffic on it, in strength and road width. The danger of a collapse exists. But this time the Dalsfjord bridge won. The question is now whether the last word about this bridge has been said.
If grants are given the Dalsfjord bridge from 2009 on, in accordance with the plans, the bridge will be built. On the other hand, if not, and there is another round in the county council and even in the Storting, the situation may change. It is safe to say that the struggle for the Dalsfjord bridge is not over yet.