Project Profiles

Oresund Bridge: An Engineering Marvel to Connect Denmark and Sweden

Published on 25th September 2023

Project Highlights

  • The Øresund Bridge, also known as the Øresund Link, is a 16-kilometre-long connection that joins the Danish capital, Copenhagen, with the Swedish city of Malmö.
  • The Oresund Bridge is not just an ordinary bridge; it is a complex structure that combines a two-level road and rail bridge, an artificial island, and a tunnel. 
  • Designed by Jørgen Nissen, Klaus Falbe Hansen from Ove Arup & Partners, along with Niels Gimsing and Georg Rotne, construction of the Øresund Bridge began in 1995 and was completed by 1 July 2000, when it opened for traffic.
  • The Øresund Bridge is a combination of a railway and automobile bridge tunnel that stretches across the Øresund Strait, a narrow waterway separating Denmark and Sweden, serving as a link between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea.
  • The Øresund Bridge starts as a tunnel on the Danish side, emerges onto an artificial island, and then extends into an impressive bridge towards Sweden. 
  • The bridge received the prestigious IABSE Outstanding Structure Award in 2002.
  • The project was a significant undertaking, with the goal of enhancing transportation and stimulating economic growth in the region.


Project Background

The concept of building a bridge over the Øresund Strait was first envisioned in the early 1900s. In 1910, a suggestion was made to the Swedish Parliament for a railway tunnel comprising two sections connected by a surface road on Saltholm Island, but it was deemed too ambitious, and no formal proposal was made until 1936. 


A group of Danish engineering firms later submitted a proposal in 1936, envisioning a national highway with a bridge as part of the project. However, this idea was also abandoned. 


During World War II, the idea was put on hold but later revisited and thoroughly studied by various Danish-Swedish government commissions throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Nevertheless, there were disagreements about the precise location and design of the link. 


In 1973, Denmark and Sweden signed an agreement to construct a fixed link, consisting of a bridge between Malmö and Saltholm, with a tunnel connecting Saltholm to Copenhagen. It also included plans for a second rail tunnel across Øresund between Helsingør and Helsingborg. However, this project was canceled in 1978 due to economic challenges and mounting environmental concerns.


As the economic situation improved in the 1980s, interest in the Øresund link persisted, leading to the signing of a new agreement between the governments in 1991.


Construction and Inauguration

In 1993, Øresund Konsortium, a collaboration between Svedab (Sweden) and A/S Øresundsforbindelsen (Denmark), selected the two-level bridge design created by Danish architect Georg Rotne for ASO Group. The ASO Group was a joint venture involving private firms from Britain, France, and Denmark. Following that, in 1995, the construction contract was awarded to Sundlink Contractors HB, a joint venture comprising companies from Sweden, Germany, and Denmark.


Oresund Map Location


To finance the construction of the link, a 4-billion-euro loan was provided by the Danish and Swedish states to Øresundskonsortiet. The costs are being repaid through the toll booths established for crossing the bridge.


Construction commenced in 1995 and was successfully completed on 14th August 1999. Even though there were two delays in the schedule, caused by the discovery of 16 unexploded World War II bombs on the seafloor and a misaligned tunnel segment, the bridge-tunnel was completed three months ahead of the originally planned time frame.


On 14th August 1999, a celebratory event was held at the midpoint of the bridge tunnel, where Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden came together to mark its completion. The official dedication ceremony took place on 1 July 2000, with Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden presiding over the occasion. The bridge tunnel opened for public traffic on the same day.


Project Cost

The entire project encompassed the building of a 16.4 km-long bridge, a tunnel, and an artificial island to connect the two countries. The tunnel construction contract was worth DKK 3.98 billion. The artificial island contract was valued at DKK 1.4 billion, while the construction contract for the high bridge and the two two-level approach bridges, with the motorway on the upper level and the railway on the lower level, amounted to DKK 6.3 billion.


Also Read: Fehmarn Belt Fixed Link Tunnel


Sections of Bridge

The Øresund Link is an impressive engineering marvel, comprising three sections. It begins on the Denmark side in Copenhagen with a total length of 3,510-metre (2.2-mile) underwater tunnel, designed to allow seamless ship traffic through the Øresund Strait. The decision to use a tunnel instead of a raised bridge was to avoid interference with air traffic in the area. The next section starts at an artificial island called Peberholm, located in the middle of the Øresund Strait just south of Denmark's natural island, Saltholm. On Peberholm, a 4,055-metre-long (2.5-mile-long) roadway extends across the island. Lastly, the connection to Malmo, Sweden, is completed by the impressive 7,845-metre-long (4.9 miles) cable-supported Øresund Bridge.



The bridge connecting Sweden and the Danish island of Amager spans a length of 7,845 meters, covering half the distance between the two countries. It is a substantial structure with a weight of 82,000 tonnes, supporting two railway tracks and functioning as a four-lane road bridge. The design comprises a combination of a horizontal girder extending along its entire length and three cable-stayed bridge sections. The girder is supported by concrete piers at regular intervals of 140 meters on both approaches.


The bridge features two pairs of free-standing cable-supporting towers, towering at 204 meters, providing ample clearance of 57 meters for ships to pass beneath. However, most ships prefer to use the unobstructed Drogden Strait above the Drogden Tunnel. The primary cable-stayed span stretches 491 meters, and the unique combination of girder and cable-stayed design was chosen to withstand heavy rail traffic and resist significant ice accumulations.


To manage high loads and accommodate movements between the superstructure and substructure, the bridge is equipped with bearings, each weighing up to 20 tonnes. These bearings can handle vertical loads of up to 96,000 kN longitudinally and up to 40,000 kN transversely. The Swiss civil engineering firm Mageba was responsible for designing, manufacturing, and installing these specialized bearings.


The bridge faced challenges with vibrations caused by cable movements under specific wind and temperature conditions. To tackle this issue, compression spring dampers were installed at the center of the cables. For continuous monitoring, two of these dampers were equipped with laser gauges. European Springs took charge of the testing, development, and installation of these spring dampers. The bridge experiences occasional brief closures during severe weather conditions, such as the St. Jude storm in October 2013.



Peberholm, also known as Pepper Islet, is an artificial island that connects to the Drogden Tunnel as part of the bridge project. The name was chosen by the Danes to complement the nearby natural island of Saltholm, which is known as Salt Islet. Peberholm serves as a designated nature reserve and was constructed using Swedish rock and soil dredged during the bridge and tunnel building process. The island is approximately 4 kilometers long and has an average width of 500 meters. It stands at an elevation of 20 meters.


Over time, Peberholm, the man-made island, has transformed into a thriving haven for flora and fauna. Initially, biologists introduced a few grasses to stabilize the island, but nature swiftly reclaimed its space. Today, it hosts more than 500 plant species and serves as a nesting ground for numerous bird species. Since 2008, the population of birds and the variety of bird species on the island have been consistently growing. The island predominantly houses various breeds of breeding gulls, and it has also become a habitat for certain locally endangered species.


Drogden Tunnel

The Drogden Tunnel, which spans 4,050 meters (2.52 miles), connects Peberholm, the artificial island, to the artificial peninsula at Kastrup on Amager island, which is the closest populated part of Denmark. The tunnel consists of a 3,510-meter (2.18 miles) immersed tube, along with entry tunnels measuring 270 meters (886 feet) at each end.


This remarkable tunnel is composed of 20 individual tunnel elements, each positioned below the channel, each weighing a massive 55,000 tons, making them the largest in the world. These segments are interconnected and placed in a trench dug into the seabed. Within the tunnel, there are two tubes for railway tracks and two for roads, with an additional smaller fifth tube provided for emergency purposes. All these tubes are arranged side by side, facilitating the smooth flow of traffic and transportation.

Benefits of Øresund Bridge

  • Enhanced Mobility: The bridge has encouraged significant mobility between Denmark and Sweden, with a ten-minute ride facilitating easy travel for commuters, goods, and services.
  • Tourism Boost: The bridge has been beneficial for tourism, making it easier for visitors to explore both Copenhagen and Malmö, promoting cultural exchange and local business growth.
  • Increased Job Opportunities: The bridge's opening encouraged a significant flow of manpower between Denmark and Sweden, leading to increased job opportunities for both Danish and Swedish workers in each other's countries.
  • Boosted Trade and Services: The ease of transportation provided by the bridge facilitated the flow of goods and services, enhancing trade between the two nations.
  • Environmental Benefits: By providing an alternative to air and sea travel, the bridge has helped to reduce carbon emissions, contributing to environmental sustainability.


Wrapping Up

The Øresund Bridge has transcended its role as a mere bridge, transforming into a symbol of unity and a remarkable testament to the potential of collaboration and innovation. It has revolutionized travel, business, and cultural exchange in the vibrant Øresund region, solidifying its position as a dynamic hub in Scandinavia. Engineers worldwide find inspiration in this marvel, showcasing the remarkable outcomes of human ingenuity, technical expertise, and environmental consciousness. The bridge linking Denmark and Sweden stands as a true engineering wonder.


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