Following the flash glacial flood in South Iceland this weekend; local tourism workers have been urging quick action to repair the ring road around Iceland. Work has already begun and temporary fixes are helping travellers.
When the glacial waters washed away the road bridge over Mulahvisl, the idea of a temporary bridge quickly became popular among locals and members of the tourism industry. However, national roads administration engineers now say that a temporary bridge is not safe or practical on the glacial flood plain. Instead they have rushed in machinery and cancelled workers’ summer leave to start building a permanent replacement right away. Construction will continue round the clock and the new road is expected to open in two-to-three weeks.
This has left South Iceland tourism workers worried at losing out on millions of kronur in passing trade; as driving around the ring road is a popular choice among thousands of tourists every year.
In the meantime, the beautiful mountain route inland to the north of the Vatnajokull glacier is open to 4×4 vehicles. And a specially equipped bus and trucks have started a free service ferrying smaller two-wheel-drive cars and their passengers over the affected river crossing. The added feature means the ring road route is accessible all the way round the country.
While the tourism industry in the south and southeast of Iceland is understandably apprehensive, travel agents elsewhere are more optimistic – especially in the Westfjords region, which has its own ring road which is also a popular tourist route.
(Photo: Alëx Elliott)