The traffic controller in the Schöllenen Gorge
The Schöllenen is an imposing gorge, and one that long presented an obstacle to travellers on the north/south and the east/west route. The construction of the continuous Gotthardstrasse in the first half of the 19th century made it passable for everyone. Millions of people have crossed the gorge since then – sometimes with a slight shiver, and always impressed by the barren rocky landscape. This important connector road now needs major repair and refurbishment, which represents a logistical challenge. Head of Traffic Management Ruedi Baumann from Attinghausen is posted midway along the five-kilometre stretch of road and has everything under control: “During the summer holidays, up to 850 cars per hour may pass this site – per direction. Managing the traffic is a challenge, but it’s not impossible.”
As Ruedi Baumann conducts the traffic, he takes all the various road users into consideration. “In the mornings and evenings the commuters to and from the Urseren Valley pass by. Of course they don’t want to wait too long; they want to get to work on time. Then there is a lot of construction site traffic: trucks that bring or haul away material, and workers who need access to the entire length of the construction site. Plus, there is the construction site traffic for the Andermatt tourist resort. And because the Urseren Valley is a prime tourist destination, there are also many tourists as well as post buses. And throughout all this, we must ensure that the emergency services – police, ambulance or fire brigade – can quickly reach the Urseren Valley.” Orchestrating all this is a herculean task. But nothing can easily perturb Ruedi Baumann.
“We’ve installed nine strategically-placed video cameras. On my screens I can monitor activity throughout the gorge and control the flow of traffic as the situation requires.” He regularly steps outdoors and directly observes the traffic. Thanks to his many years of experience in traffic management, he analyses and assimilates the critical facts instantly.
Construction works in the Schöllenen are progressing on schedule. The refurbishment of the Gotthard pass road has just reached the halfway mark. The main works in the Schöllenen are scheduled for completion by the end of 2018. The final works will be conducted in 2019. The main works this year are on the Heuegg gallery, the roadway and the retaining walls between the Heuegg gallery and the Tanzenbein Nord gallery and on the Bäzkehren. A separate path and an underpass are being built for non-motorised traffic (cyclists and pedestrians).
The Swiss Federal Roads Office (FEDRO) is responsible for the refurbishment and maintenance of this historically significant road. The cost of the engineering and execution of this road refurbishment project amounts to approximately CHF 105 million.
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