I had been all set to post about Switzerland’s tunnels this winter. A day or two before I was going to publish the post, Switzerland experienced its second worst road accident. On March 13, 2012, a bus carrying Belgian schoolchildren and teachers on the way home from a ski trip crashed into a tunnel wall in Sierre. According to Wikipedia, “(o)f the 52 people on board, 28 were killed in the crash, including both drivers, all four teachers, and 22 of the 46 children. The other 24 pupils, all aged between 10 and 12, were injured, including three who were hospitalised with severe brain and chest injuries.” Belgium declared a day of morning and there were many memorial celebrations here in Switzerland.
I collect ideas for my post and look for opportunities to take accompanying photograph (and vice versa). When we drove to Wilder to see the Tschäggättä, I photographed tunnels to use in the post. One of the tunnels, was the one in Sierre where the accident occurred.
While the cause of the accident is still under investigation, a local paper put forth a theory that the driver believed that he was heading into the right lane instead of an emergency pull-off space. While it does explain why the bus crashed into the wall at full speed, at this point, it is just a theory.
We are constantly amazed by Switzerland’s engineering feats. The Swiss didn’t start building their highway system until 1955 and progressed very slowly. As a result, they were able to see what worked (and didn’t work) elsewhere. The Swiss approached building their system in their typically reasoned, intent, deliberative, considerate way.
There are highway tunnels throughout Switzerland. Notable tunnels include:
- Simplon (the third longest after Seikan and the Chunnel)
- The Swiss are currently building what will be the world’s longest tunnel (St. Gothard Tunnel) under the Gothard Pass in the Alps. It will be 57 kilometers and go from Erstfeld in the canton of Uri to Bodio in the canton of Tessin. Work started in 1996.
- The Road Through The Alps Into Switzerland’s Lötschental Valley (schwingeninswitzerland.wordpress.com)