Swiss canton to impose radical solutions to solve traffic on the Gotthard
With the school holidays underway and Easter close at hand, authorities in Canton Uri have warned all drivers in Switzerland to expect significant disruption around the Gotthard Road Tunnel. The main artery between Swiss cities, Ticino and Italy is often clogged up at this time of year, so much so that cantonal authorities will be imposing a number of measures to help ease traffic.
Gotthard Road Tunnel a constant source of traffic in Switzerland
Much like last year, representatives from cantons in the Swiss mountains told Blick that they expect there to be significant traffic jams on the Gotthard Road Tunnel, especially during the Easter weekend (April 7 to 10). Travellers hoping to cross the Alps during this time should expect heavy southbound traffic on April 7 and 8 and heavy northbound traffic on April 10 and 11.
Drivers are advised to avoid the peak times at the Gotthard (7am to 11am and 4pm to 6pm) to reduce the amount of time waiting at the tunnel. Other mountain roads like the San Bernadino and Saint Bernard passes are also expected to be busy.
Last year saw a record number of traffic jams on the Gotthard Road Tunnel, with 350 hours of traffic jams reported in July 2022 alone. This has convinced many drivers that taking the Gotthard Pass - the old main route between Italy and Switzerland before the tunnel opened in 1980 - is the fastest way to get across. This has angered the residents of Ertfeld, Amsteg and Wassen, small communities that see hundreds of drivers divert through their villages every day.
Slower speed limits and closing exits planned on Gotthard
To help locals in these communities, and better-manage traffic on the Gotthard, authorities in Canton Uri told Blick that they would be trialling three new systems. The tests will be carried out during the Easter rush from April 5.
First, if a traffic jam is developing north of the tunnel, the motorway exit just before the tunnel at Göschenen will be closed to prevent drivers from diverting onto smaller mountain roads. If the jam reaches four kilometres long, the Wassen turnoff will be closed to southbound traffic for the same reason.
Finally, if the jam stretches for over eight kilometres - a fairly common occurrence as at peak times jams can stretch for over 10 kilometres - the maximum speed limit on the A2 and A4 motorways will be reduced from 120 to 80 kilometres an hour. On the A2, the speed limit will be enforced between the Beckenried junction and the tunnel (a distance of 45 kilometres), while the A4’s lower speed limit will be in place from Goldau to the Gotthard (53,5 kilometres).
More traffic calming measures planned for this summer
Authorities hope that having a reduced speed limit on such a long stretch of road will slow the flow of traffic as it arrives at the tunnel, making traffic jams less likely and easier to manage. Along with the measures announced for Easter, the Uri Civil Engineering Office told Blick that they will be working with the Federal Roads Office to implement even more traffic-easing measures on the Gotthard, to be tested this summer.
Thumb image: Shutterstock.com / U. J. Alexander