In December 2019, the Swiss Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC) examined the implementation project for the construction of the second Gotthard tube and issued the planning permit with conditions. The Swiss Federal Roads Office (FEDRO) is preparing the construction details. According to the planning status prior to the outbreak of coronavirus, construction work is to begin as early as summer 2020.
The existing tunnel with two lanes in one tube was opened in 1980 and has to be renovated, which requires a closure of several years. In order to be able to maintain a road connection on the Gotthard axis all year round, the Swiss government decided to build a second tube and then renovate the existing tunnel.
The construction of the second tube will produce 6.3 million tonnes of excavated material. Of this, about 2.8 million tonnes of rock will be used for the improvement and renaturation of the shallow water zone in Lake Uri and about 2.5 million tonnes in Airolo for the adaptation of the terrain. In addition, the Airolo motorway junction will be redesigned and on a length of 1000 m the motorway will run under a cover.
From 2032, Road Traffic in Both Tubes
According to current budgeting, the cost of building the second tube will amount to around 2 billion Swiss francs (1.9 billion euros). The tunnel construction work is expected to take around seven years. Driving will take place simultaneously with one tunnel boring machine each from the portals at Airolo and Göschenen. According to current planning, the second tube should be able to go into operation in mid-2029. The existing tube will then be refurbished within a period of around three years.
Both tubes will then be available from 2032; however, only one lane in each direction will be open to traffic, the other serving as a breakdown lane. This will eliminate oncoming traffic, thus increasing traffic safety. The dosing system, which regulates the sufficient distance between the trucks in the tunnel, will remain in place.