Switzerland’s oldest traffic tunnel through the Alps reopened on Christmas eve after a three-month closure due to problems with the ventilation system.
After extensive repair work, the tunnel that connects Martigny in the western Swiss canton of Valais with the Aosta Valley in northwestern Italy reopened to traffic at 8am on Sunday. Motorists wishing to traverse the Alps though the tunnel can travel for free until January 1, 2018. However, speed will be limited to 60km/h for three months and heavy vehicles like trucks will be restricted to circulating alternatively in one direction at a time only.
The tunnel was closed to traffic from September 21 following the collapse of a 127 metre beam holding up the ventilation system. It was necessary to rebuild it and temporarily reinforce the beams to last two years over a length of 1500 meters. Before the closure, the tunnel welcomed around 740,000 vehicles a year.
Great St Bernard is the first road traffic tunnel to be opened through the Alps. Construction work began in 1958 and the tunnel was officially inaugurated on March 19, 1964.