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Geneva to vote on lake tunnel again

Lake crossing points like the Mont Blanc bridge in Geneva are regularly snarled up with traffic Keystone

Three months after a similar initiative was rejected at the ballot box, voters in canton Geneva look set to decide again whether to build a road tunnel under the lake.

The committee behind an initiative to construct a four-kilometre lake tunnel near Geneva handed in signatures on Monday to force a local vote which could take place in the next 12 months.

The road tunnel project, launched by the centre-right Radical Party and centrist Christian Democratic Party, aims to combat chronic traffic congestion in the city centre.

Initiative supporters claimed the new tunnel would be different from the shorter 1.5-km “Rade” tunnel project, which was turned down by 63% of Geneva voters in September 2014. They said it would link up to the cantonal ring road and Swiss-French motorway network and would be located at the wider part of the lake, east of the city.

Supporters said the new, longer tunnel would therefore ensure transit traffic didn’t end up crossing the city and snarling up main lake crossing points like the Mont Blanc bridge.

The tunnel will cost CHF2.7-3.3 billion ($2.67-$3.26 billion) and is not likely to be realised before 2030 at the earliest.

A positive vote will send a clear signal to the federal authorities in Bern, which are hesitant about financing such a large infrastructure project that they do not consider a priority.

The question of whether to build a bridge or tunnel in Geneva to help people cross from one side of the lake to the other and ease congestion has been debated for years.

Prior to last year’s vote, in June 1988, 68% of local voters agreed in principle to a new lake crossing. However, in June 1996, two-thirds of voters rejected plans to build either a tunnel or a bridge across the lake. 

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR