The St. Gotthard Tunnel in Switzerland is the third longest road tunnel in the world (the longest is Lærdalstunnelen, which is 24.51 km (15.3 miles), and the second longest is the Zhongnanshan Tunnel). It runs from Göschenen in the north to Airolo in the south, and is just under 16.4 kilometres (10.5 miles) in length below the St. Gotthard Pass. It links two Swiss cantons: Uri to the north and Ticino to the south.
On Friday, October 24, 2001, a collision of two trucks created a fire in the tunnel, killing eleven and injuring many more, the smoke and gases produced by the fires being the main cause of death. The effects of even small fires in a confined space like a tunnel are extremely serious because, for example, carbon monoxide is highly toxic at very low concentrations. The tunnel was closed for two months after the accident for repair and cleaning up.
Under construction since 2002 and estimated to be completed by about 2016, the Gotthard Base Tunnel (a second rail tunnel), will be longer than the first one (57 km) and be put into operation for the use of express trains travelling from northern Switzerland to the Ticino area and beyond.
Traffic flows through only one tunnel, which carries traffic both ways, with each direction allocated only one lane. The tunnel's speed limit is 80 km/h (50 mph).
The tunnel is heavily used and often home to traffic jams both on the north and south ends. In contrast, another tunnel through the Alps, the San Bernardino road tunnel in the canton of Graubünden further east, is relatively uncongested and shorter. The road taken on that expressway is actually longer than the direct route through the St. Gotthard tunnel.
In the tunnel, a distance of 150 metres (500 feet) between each truck is enforced.
Alpine ideology meets a bottlenecked reality: the Gotthard massif has always separated Switzerland's north from its south, leaving generations of Swiss to find ways over, through or around the mountain[degrees] The 16-kilometre Gotthard road tunnel is one example of this. But as it has become more of a parking lot than highway in recent years, the debate about building a second tunnel continues to gain momentum.(news feature)
Oct 01, 2010; [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] It seems like the only reasons for the Gotthard's existence is to create transport headaches, while giving...