Thursday, February 11, 2016

Gotthard: Ticino's traffic nightmare?

For most people living in the Ticino, the Gotthard tunnel is a part of life. You might use it regularly or maybe only once a year but it is the main artery that connects the Italian part with the German part of Switzerland. It is also the highway many Nordics descend on during the summer months in search of the Mediterranean sun often creating hours of traffic jam.

With five million cars and 900,000 long vehicles a year, the Gotthard road tunnel is one of the major crossing points in the Alps. 58% of vehicles crossing the Swiss Alps transit by the tunnel, linking Göschenen in the north and Airolo on the southern side, which at 16.9 km is one of the longest road tunnels in the world.

After 35 years of service – it was inaugurated in September 1980 – the tunnel is in need of a complete structural overhaul. This major work means a prolonged closure of the existing two-way underground tunnel.

So now the question is: "How is the flow of goods and people between the north and south of Switzerland but also central Europe to be maintained during the renovations?"

For the Swiss government, “the best and most lasting solution” would be construction of a second tube followed by renovation of the existing tunnel. As an alternative, opponents of the two-tunnel approach favour the “rolling highway” concept, with cars and trucks being loaded onto shuttle trains.
This would mean that heavy vehicles would move along the new Alptransit tunnel, while cars would go via the old Gotthard railway line.

The last word will be with the voters on February 28. In the two preceding nationwide ballots, in 1994 and 2004, a majority of voters were against doubling the capacity of the Gotthard tunnel.

Source: Federal Roads Office 

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