Need for improvement
The old road between Florø and Førde was built in the period between 1911 and 1945. The standard of this road varied a lot with many bottlenecks and a number of unsafe passages. Even after the Naustdal tunnel was opened in 1995, and the road across Ramsdalsheia had become history, there still remained 24 kilometres of road with an inadequate standard. In 1998, the Storting decided to upgrade the standard of the highway between Førde and Florø.
The Storting discussed the financing in a separate proposition; Storting proposition 77/1997-98. The toll road company Sunnfjordtunnelen AS (Ltd) was allowed to advance 120 million kroner to be invested in the period 1999-2001, which meant that the road construction could start up three years before an ordinary allocation in the national budget. The toll money would be collected at the toll station at the Naustdal tunnel to cover the interest of the advanced means.
The project was given national allocations from 2002-2005, but with the economic framework of the Norwegian Road Plan 2002-2011, it seemed as if the project would not get sufficient annual means for a continuous operation. In 2002, it appeared that the construction work would have to be stopped for a few months due to lack of means for a 100% operation. The Directorate of Public Roads did not allow the redistribution of 15 million kroner from other road projects, but after the Minister of Transport and Communications, Torild Skogsholm, visited this project, the financial problems were solved. The financing of the whole road project was solved eventually, and the construction work could be carried out as planned. The whole road project cost 376 million kroner (in 2005 kroner)
Upgrading between Førde and Naustdal
About half the road distance between Førde and Florø was upgraded and rebuilt from the 1960s. In the 1960s and the 1970s, the road between Førde and Naustdal was rebuilt and upgraded with three tunnels; the Kletten tunnel in 1969 and the tunnels at Rotenes and Hornnes in 1975. In 1995, the Naustdal tunnel was opened with a new road to Storebru.
Worst in the municipality of Flora
In the municipality of Flora, there was upgrading and rebuilding on a number of sections on the 24-kilometre-long road from Svarthumle to Brandsøy. One major improvement was the tunnel through Sundefjellet (1883 m) in 1985, and a new main road into Florø on the north side of Brandsøy in 1991. Otherwise, some minor improvements were carried out, but there still remained many bottlenecks and traffic danger points.
Generally speaking, the road work was carried out without too many difficulties, but some problems and tense moments occurred. During the work with extending the Helgøy tunnel, where there was traffic all the time, the road was submerged in water and the road surface was badly damaged. Big potholes in the road caused many problems for the cars, and the drivers complained loudly. However, the most difficult section was at the crossroads at Grov, where highway 5 intersects with highway 614 to Svelgen. At this point, engineers and workers feared that the whole mountainside would fall into the fjord during the rock-blasting operation. If this had happened, the traffic would have had to be redirected by way of Sandane and Hyen! The Norwegian Geological Institute and the Directorate of Public Roads entered the process, and the work was excellently carried out without any damage to the existing road.
The road through the centre of Eikefjord caused much debate. Many people, especially businessmen and shopkeepers at Eikefjord, wanted the road to go through the centre. Until 2001, this was a controversial issue. The Public Roads Administration and the municipal authorities of Flora allocated seven-eight million kroner to upgrade the centre after the through traffic by-passed the centre. Pedestrian lanes, pavements, parking areas, and a market place were built.
The Minister of Transport and Communications, Torild Skogsholm opened the new road between Svarthumle and Mekevika, on 6 July 2005. It was not the first time that the Minister visited this road project. On an icecold December day in 2002, the Minister opened the road section between Knapstad and Kvalvik which bypassed the centre of Eikefjord. The following summer, in August 2003, Mrs Skogsholm opened the upgraded centre of Eikefjord.
An additional story
On the island of Litle Helgøya, the inhabitants got a connection to the main road by means of surplus rock material. The Giil couple had to use the rowboat across the 200-metre-wide strait to get to the highway. This new connection was not at all included in the original road plan, but the islanders were thrilled that the Public Roads Administration made use of the surplus rock mass to fill up the strait between the islands of Store and Litle Helgøya.