Gotthard tunnel on track for record amount of traffic jams in 2023
A new analysis by traffic monitor Viasuisse has revealed that the Gotthard Road Tunnel is on track for a record-breaking year when it comes to traffic jams. In 2023 so far, drivers in Switzerland have collectively spent nearly 3.000 hours waiting in jams on either side of the main axis through the mountains, double the amount recorded in 2012.
Nearly 3.000 hours of traffic jams at the Gotthard Road Tunnel
According to the data, by the end of October 2023, there had been 1.463 hours when the motorway leading up to the southern end of the Gotthard had been jammed up. The northern end saw even more log jams, coming in at 1.513 hours. Viasuisse predicted that by the end of the year, between 1.500 and 1.700 hours of traffic jams will be recorded on either side of the tunnel - a new record.
The organisation noted that the number of jams north, south and in the tunnel has doubled since 2012. Speaking to Blick, a spokesperson for the Federal Roads Office (Astra) explained that this is mainly due to the high levels of traffic during public and school holidays. They added that the days off at Easter, Ascension and the months of July and August saw the highest frequency of jams, but conceded that traffic increased on “all weekends from mid-March to mid-October.”
Experts explained that the Gotthard is particularly vulnerable due to its limited capacity, as the road can only handle 1.000 vehicles per hour. With over 800.000 vehicles looking to use the tunnel each year, any poor or miss-timed manoeuvre can lead to kilometre-long traffic jams. “It only takes a little in heavy traffic - changing lanes at the wrong moment, which triggers a braking wave - and the traffic comes to a standstill”, noted Astra spokesperson Thomas Rohrbach.
Swiss cities beset by traffic issues
However, the Gotthard is not the only road in Switzerland with low capacity and high demand, with Astra noting that the motorway from the Gubrist Tunnel near Zurich to Winterthur has slow or stationary traffic around 33 percent of the time. Motorway sections around Zurich, Basel, Bern, Geneva, Lucerne, St. Gallen, Lugano and Bellinzona are all major hotspots for jams.
The problems at the Gotthard have led local authorities to institute a number of measures and proposals to try and reduce traffic at the tunnel. Some on the cantonal level have even called for a toll to be implemented on either side of the tunnel, although this has been rejected by federal lawmakers thus far.
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