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Gotthard closure leaves alternate route clogged

The San Bernardino pass and tunnel have become the main alternative to the damaged Gotthard tunnel Keystone Archive

The main alternate route to the closed Gotthard tunnel, the San Bernardino, is struggling to cope with increased traffic.

This content was published on November 23, 2001 - 16:02

Accidents have forced the closure of San Bernardino route on two occasions since a devastating fire gutted the southern end of the Gotthard - Switzerland's main north-south axis - last Wednesday.

The San Bernardino route, in canton Graubünden, re-opened on Tuesday after being shut for several hours when a truck collided with a passenger vehicle, seriously injuring the truck driver. The route was also forced to close briefly last Thursday, following a similar accident.

Much of the traffic which usually passes through the Gotthard - up to 4,500 trucks a day - is now using the San Bernardino. "Compared with same period over the past few years, there are two to three times more heavy vehicles on the A13 road," said Ursula Handschin, a spokeswoman for Graubünden police.

The authorities have yet to come up with concrete solutions to deal with the increased traffic. "The federal and cantonal governments have already held several meetings regarding this problem, but without any results," Handschin told swissinfo.

The San Bernardino route is the closest alternative to the Gotthard tunnel which was shut last Wednesday after two trucks collided head-on killing 11 people and sparking a fire, which took days to bring under control.

The closure of both the Gotthard and the San Bernardino effectively cuts off Italy's main road links to the north following the shutdown in 1999 of the Mont Blanc tunnel after a fire that was also started by a truck.

swissinfo with agencies

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