Unmapped motorway tunnel penetrated by drill

16 January 2012

A geotechnical investigation drill penetrated a traffic tunnel in Stockholm, Sweden last week. The Stockholm police force will treat the accident at the 4.7km-long ‘Southern Link’ motorway tunnel as a criminal offence, an act of negligence or a case of endangering the public.

Coach driver Gunnar Norberg was driving through the tunnel when an iron bar sliced through his windscreen from the tunnel roof. Norberg told the local radio: “Suddenly there was a bang and the whole windscreen just vanished. I went outside, only to see this huge iron bar that came through the ceiling and went all the way into the ground. It was quite obvious that someone was drilling above.

Norberg added, “You could hear that it was someone drilling. There was a bloody racket down there in the tunnel. And they kept on drilling, obviously unaware of what had happened.”

A spokesman for a Stockholm traffic management centre said that a company gathering data for a potential building project had simply drilled in the wrong place. Reportedly the drill penetrated the tunnel and a pipe fell down, hitting the vehicle.

The workman who carried out the drilling told the same radio station that the tunnel was omitted from the maps given to him by the city council. He added that he heard on the radio that traffic had been halted, but the connection did not occur to him until the police arrived on site.

Limited traffic access was later granted after an inspector checked the damages. No one was hurt despite two trucks crashing. The tunnel was opened in 2004.