New Gubrist Tunnel to open at the end of April
Drivers in Switzerland rejoice! After six and a half years of construction, the third tunnel at Gubrist near Zurich will be opened to traffic at the end of April 2023, the Federal Roads Office (ASTRA) has confirmed. However, in true Swiss fashion, motorists in Canton Zurich will have to wait quite a bit before congestion eases.
Gubristtunnel in Zurich has traffic jams 350 days a year
For anyone that has tried to drive to, from or past Zurich, the Gubristtunnel is a frequently heard name in traffic reports and on the lips of soon-to-be delayed motorists. Being one of the only feasible ways to get from western to eastern Switzerland and back, more than 120.000 vehicles use the route every day.
The two tunnels that currently serve the route are woefully under-equipped for such an important task, with only two lanes offered in each direction. According to ASTRA, there is a traffic jam near or in the Gubristtunnel 350 days a year.
New tunnel at Gubrist designed to ease congestion
With the construction of the third Gubrist tunnel, the motorway will be expanded from four lanes to seven, with four heading to St. Gallen and Zurich Airport and three heading to Bern, Basel, Lucerne and Chur. The new tunnel is the largest road tunnel ever built in the alpine nation, measuring 16 metres in diameter.
To help shift the tons of earth required to make the tunnel, the Swiss government constructed a rail link from the site to the local public transport network. In all, 700.000 cubic metres of rock were removed from the hill, and two to three freight trains ran every day in order to clear the site.
Sadly, traffic will not improve until 2027
Six and a half years after the project was officially started in 2016, the new tunnel is set to be opened at the end of April, with ASTRA promising a “tunnel festival on April 15” to celebrate. However, with this being Switzerland, motorists in the alpine nation will have to wait a while for the benefits, because as the saying doesn't go, once one new tunnel opens, two older ones shut.
When the new tunnel opens, only two of the lanes will be open and available for the first few months, with the last drainage, surfacing and foundation work due to be completed in July. Then, having completed the project, the authorities will turn their attention to the two older tunnels.
As soon as the new tunnel is up and running, ASTRA has announced that the first of the older tunnels will be closed for renovation, with the second tunnel following suit two years later. Then, finally, authorities say that motorists will be able to use all the tunnels by 2027.