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Easing congestion Switzerland moots major motorway widening scheme

Traffic jam

All major highways need to be six lanes along their entire route, according to the report.

(© KEYSTONE / URS FLUEELER)

The Swiss government is weighing up a plan to increase capacity on major highways by widening large sections of the road infrastructure. The idea is to make sure that all key intercity road routes have three lanes running in each direction.

The NZZ am Sonntag newspaper has seen a government report entitled “Long Term Perspective on National Roads”. It pinpoints crucial axis points between major cities that need upgrading to ease traffic congestion.

The triangle between Zurich, Bern and Basel is one key area that needs widening to six lanes along the entire route, the report says. Other stretches include the Geneva to Lausanne route in the French-speaking part of the country, the eastern stretch between Winterthur and St Gallen, and in the south, Bellinzona to Chiasso on the Italian border.

The report also looks into building new highway routes. For example, the government is considering developing the motorways around Geneva, Lausanne and Basel into a ‘ringroad system’. It believes that completely new motorway sections are necessary between the capital Bern and Lucerne, in central Switzerland, that bypasses Zurich altogether.

Upgrading Switzerland’s road network is not a new idea, but the report adds details. Last year, the government said it would add an extra CHF1.8 billion to its plan to extend motorways and upgrade roads in towns. This would bring spending to CHF16 billion ($16.5 billion) over the next ten years.

Switzerland has a motorway network of about 1,800 kilometres (1,120 miles), including tunnels and bridges across the country.

The government estimates that about 20% of the motorways will be regularly congested by 2040 including daily traffic jams of up to four hours if no measures are taken.


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