Construction begins on second Gotthard Road Tunnel in Switzerland
Construction has begun on the second Gotthard Road Tunnel between Switzerland and Italy. The project, which was supposed to be announced in the spring but delayed due to COVID-19, will be completed by 2029 at a cost of 2,14 billion Swiss francs.
New Gotthard tunnel to ease traffic on Swiss motorways
The tunnel is one of the fastest ways for a vehicle to get across the Swiss mountains to Italy and vice-versa. The first road tunnel was completed in 1980, connecting the Swiss motorway system, along with the San Bernardino Pass, to Italy. The tunnel is 16,9 kilometres long and serves over 17.000 vehicles a day. Along with the Gotthard Train Tunnel for public transport, it cuts through the mountainside, reducing journeys times by up to 40 minutes.
Now, a new tunnel is to be constructed alongside the old tunnel at a cost of 2,14 billion Swiss francs. Original plans had the tunnel operating for only four years, while the older tunnel was being refurbished. However, at a referendum in 2016, the use of both tunnels was approved and both are expected to be in operation by 2032.
New Gotthard tunnel to be completed by 2029
In a symbolic ceremony, children from Göschenen, Canton Uri, exchanged plaques with children from Airolo, Canton Ticino. The event concluded with a “symbolic explosion” to mark the start of construction. 7,4 million tonnes of material will be excavated during the project, which will see large boring equipment and explosives used.
To holidaymakers, the tunnel cannot come soon enough, as the current tunnel with only one lane in each direction causes frequent traffic jams. The longest “accident-free” traffic jam stretched for 18 kilometres on either side of the tunnel in 2019, so there is hope that doubling the size of the motorway will ease congestion. The new tunnel will “break through” in 2026, with the Swiss government hoping to open the tunnel in 2029.