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The road follows a route which was originally planned for a railroad. The initial planning started in the beginning of the 20th Century back in 1935 but those plans were abandoned.  It was not  until the 1970s that serious design began on the roads.

Actual construction began on 1 August 1983 and was finally completed in July 1989, after delays caused by bad weather.  It replaced a ferry service which followed a similar route.

In total the construction of the Atlantic Ocean Road cost over 120 million Norwegian Kroner (1989), of which about a quarter was collected from tolls on the road.  However tolls have now been removed and the road is free to all.

In 2005 it was elected as the "Norwegian Construction of the Century" and has become one of the National Tourist routes.