Eat your heart out, Panama Canal.
World's first ship tunnel
Credit: Courtesy of Kystverket/Snøhetta

Norway is going all in on a major new infrastructure project: building the world's first ship tunnel.

With construction expected to start in 2019, the $313-million excavation and construction project will result in a mile-long underground waterway for ships, effectively allowing them to bypass the turbulent seas around the Scandinavian nation's northwestern Stad peninsula.

The projected opening date for the tunnel is sometime in 2023.

"The Stad Sea is the most exposed and most dangerous area along the coast of Norway," the Norwegian Transportation Administration explained. "A ship tunnel will reduce the risk of incidents and accidents, making the voyage safer for both passengers and freight, as well as securing regularity. It will also strengthen industrial and commercial activities in the region."

Strong storms are known to hit the area as often as 100 days a year, making navigation difficult. But with this tunnel, vessels will pass between the bay of Moldefjorden straight through to Kjødepollen without having to work through the treacherous terrain. The journey will take about 10 minutes, they project.

As CNN notes, this is much more than a passage or canal: full-size cruise ships and freight craft will be able to pass through the tunnel at a frequency of as many as five vessels per hour.

The project involves blasting out about 8 million tons of rock. And although passengers will miss out on views of picturesque fjords while they venture underground, the experience of gliding through an eerie subterranean tunnel of this size will likely be an attraction in and of itself.