A new road through Þingvellir National Park was formally opened Monday, replacing the old one at the same location, which has been closed to traffic all summer. Park Director Einar Sæmundsen tells mbl.is that the new road greatly improves traffic safety in the park, in addition to enabling travelers to better enjoy the view.
The new road is 8 m (26 ft) wide, or 2 m wider than the old one, and paved to minimize traffic noise. There are four parking lots along the road, three for 8-10 cars, and one for 25-30 cars. The speed limit will remain at 50 km/hr (31 mph).
Work on the road began last summer, and the latter phase of the project was completed Monday. The detour used this summer through Vantsvík cove, the so-called Vallavegur road, will now be converted into a dead end, accessible from the north only.
At a formal opening ceremony, a ribbon was cut by Minister of Transport Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson, Ari Trausti Guðmundsson, head of the Þingvellir Committee and Bergþóra Þorkelsdóttir, director of the Icelandic Road Administration.
Traffic through Þingvellir has increased considerably in recent years. In 2010, an average of 430 vehicles went by each day, but that number was up to 1,500 in 2016, representing a 250 percent increase.
The cost of the road construction is estimated at ISK 767 million (USD 6.2 million; EUR 5.6 million), excluding the cost of changes to Vallavegur.
You can view the road in the video above, which includes an interview with Park Director Einar Sæmundsen.