Ladies and gentlemen - please spare two or three minutes of your time to take a look at UL151's - and perhaps the world's - most horrendous and intimidating rural motorway intersection.
When one asks "What happens if you start a major infrastructural project and then begin executing the engineers involved every year, forcing the replacement to start anew", most residents of the provincial town of Dalhuse answer "Project 852", or how the "Dalhuse Motorway Intersection and Exit No. 27 Complex" was called in the parlance of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Roads during its construction phase.
The work began in 1976 and was intended to take no more than 18 months, constructing a cloverleaf for the exit from the M2 motorway to the national road T2 and a semi-cloverleaf for the fork between the M2 and the newly-built M3. In the end, it would take almost forty years, in which the two simple intersections outgrew into a dangling Lovecraftian mess of unnecessary ramps and wrongly-marked exits built around the two trumpet-type junctions at its northern end.
It all started when a New Years' prank gone wrong resulted in the burning of the original blueprints and the subsequent internment of the engineering and management team in a "Labor Rehabilitation Facility", as most torture and death camps in the country were called at that time. The specialists who came to their replacement had to start anew, with nothing but hand-drawn and badly-annotated sketches at their disposal.
The work almost came to a standstill in 1978, as the Ministry of Infrastructure failed to deliver the supplies requested by the new chief engineer in time. Dissatisfied by the progress of Project 852 during his summer inspection trip, then-President Einar Thorbjørnsen had the second team rounded up and summarily executed near the village of Rudensdal. Their replacement only held for three months, until an ill-sighted foreman misread a sketch, resulting in the need to demolish and completely replace a wrongly-constructed ramp.
Picture from a recording of a 2013 traffic accident on the intercharge.
More and more workers - mostly political prisoners, serfs, peasants and slaves rented out from labor camps and estates in the southern parts of the country - had to be sent to the site, and the barracks quickly became overcrowded and filthy. The third purge came in the winter of 1982, when an epidemy of cholera killed four fifths of the laborers. In his rage, Thorbjørnsen ordered that the whole construction is "burned to the ashes and rebuilt from the beginning" - under his personal direction.
The President, who knew absolutely nothing about engineering or accounting, spent the summer holidays of 1983 in Dalhuse. This cost the state three times the original project price, as off-lanes and road bridges were demolished, rebuilt and demolished again overnight, up to ten times in a row and according to His Excellency's mood and taste.
The "Bloody Easter" of 1987, a "minor overthrow" which brought the current dictator Theodor Lynden Frankenstein's uncle and predecessor Edmund Olsen to power, entailed the detonation of a thermobaric charge on site by the paramilitary Gendarmerie (which stayed loyal to Thorbjørnsen). The intercharge was almost finished at that point - but it was completely destroyed in the process.
Olsen stayed disinterested in the project until 1992 - the remains of construction machines slowly began to rust. It was a trip to a factory near the city of Tolling which showed the President the deplorable state the intercharge was in. Olsen sent the 800 remaining workers to work camp and sent a "Military Construction Brigade" to Dalhuse. The project seemed to come back to life, this time for good - but in 1995, the Ministry of Defence transferred all engineers involved to a nuclear weapon factory in the northern province of Rødrikslag, deserting the construction site once again.
President Olsen, terminally ill at that state, found no replacement at this time. As such, he was forced to hire the foreign contractor Global Roadworks, a dubious multinational company which used road construction as a cover to massive money-laundering operations. The government refused to understand that no serious firm would work with them. In his naïvity, Olsen refused to have lawyers check the background of Global Roadworks.
It was not until 2000 that the true nature of the "external planning and construction partner" could be revealed. Brigadier Martin Kowatsch, an aide of the Minister of Infrastructure, set off to inspect the Dalhuse site only to discover that "within 5 years, nothing was built but 3 ramps, all leading literally nowhere". There were "mountains" of rubble and rusting construction equipment everywhere, blocking the workers.
At that time, the residents of the province began using the term "Your own 852" when describing dire and comical failures.
Under the premise of needing help with his son's homework, Kowatsch asked one of the "engineers" a mathematical question. "The man did not know what an integral or a first derivative is, he could not even solve a simple square equation", Kowatsch recalls, "At that point, I finally understood that he and his colleagues had never seen a technical university or trade school from inside".
The debacle seemed to be final this time. Failing to realize that word had spread not only around the country but also around the world, the government kept disseminating propaganda of the "brave and hardworking men" toiling to complete "one of the country's most advanced and modern road works".
It was not until Edmund Olsen retired and the current dictator, Theodor Lynden Frankenstein, was inaugurated that measures were taken. The contract with Global Roadworks was terminated without payment (this would lead to massive lawsuits).
Still, the nation's nuclear program and numerous other "black projects" kept most of the engineers occupied, and those who were avaliable boycotted Project 852 even under threats of torture and amputation, claiming that the intercharge was "haunted" and "posessed by demons". As such, Frankenstein and the project chief he appointed, Dr. Herbert Jakobsen, had to search for the qualified personnel in the immediate area. Along with local stonemasons and electricians turned into "accredited engineers" overnight, the final phase of the construction employed 16 middle school teachers who helped with drafting and important calculations.
As another demolition was deemed "not only too costly but potentially destructive to the moral of the whole country" because the local government "was basically turning into more and more of a laughing stock", the final team chose to "save what could still be saved" by completing the erratically drawn lanes their predecessors had devised.
Delivery hardships postponed the opening until 2008, but there were no "major problems or incidents" during that time. Local residents recall that the atmosphere of the opening celebration "resembled that of a funeral". Over the years, the simple project had turned into the "nightmare of every motorist" as engineers failed to actually understand how it would feel to drive on the intersections. In 2010, over 10 road signs had to be replaced because they sported the wrong text.
Still today, drivers try to avoid the "Project 852" area, clogging up country roads instead - mainly because they fear accidents.
In the first months of the intercharge's function, 87 fatalities were recorded, giving the project its name "The Trumpets of the Apocalypse", in reference to the Relevation of John.
Part of the barracks that housed the workers was turned into a motorway service station that quickly became infamous for its disgusting food, contaminated fuel and lack of water and electricity. Nevertheless, the tick-ridden "Avtostop Motel Dalhuse" is the last hope for many truck and bus drivers who get caught in a nightly traffic jam.
What do you think? What are your country's most scandalous infrastructural projects?