The Gotthard tunnel opens (1980)

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Tuesday, 5 September 2017

1980 -

On this day in the year 1980 the famous Gotthard Road Tunnel opened. It’s 16.9 kilometres (10.5 mi) long. This tunnel crosses through the Swiss Alps and connects north and south Switzerland together. At the time of construction, it was the longest road tunnel in the whole world. As of 2017 it’s been the ninth longest. Even though the tunnel is part of a motorway, it only has one bidirectional tube with two lanes. There already was a railway tunnel in place before 1980. The construction of this tunnel took already place in 1882.

St Gotthard Pass
The Gotthard Road Tunnel was built to avoid the St Gotthard Pass. This pass was heavily used in the 13th century and was essentially used for trading missions. However, the pass is only accessible in the summer, due to heavy snowfall in the winter.

Collision and fire
In the year 2001 a terrible accident happened in the tunnel. Two trucks collided. This caused a huge fire which killed eleven people and injured many more. The fire released much smoke, containing many toxic gasses. This in combination with a confined space like a tunnel, is very dangerous. For safety reasons, there are now only 150 trucks allowed in the tunnel at once.

360 trivial fact
The Gotthard Pass contains one of the many devil’s bridges. Devil’s bridges seem impossible to be made by humans. According to the myth; if man couldn’t build the bridge, the devil must have done it.


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