With the construction of the new Axenstrasse Axenstrasse should become secure. But it won’t open until 2031 at the earliest. It is still unclear when construction will begin. The project is up to judges who have to decide on environmentalists’ objections.
The Axenstrasse, erupted in the steep cliff that runs along the eastern shore of Lake Urie from Brunen to Flühlen, is one of the most dangerous roads in Switzerland. Since its opening in 1865, the Transalpine Transit axis has been a hotbed of traffic accidents and natural disasters.
In recent decades, the federal government has invested millions of francs in tunnels and galleries, road improvements and alarm systems. But especially in Wolfsprung, where an SUV probably crashed through a thin railing and fell 50 meters into the lake on Sunday, there are practically no safety measures.
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fierce judicial battle
The authorities are aware of the dangers. But as NZZ reports, there has been a heated debate for many years about making this nerve-wracking point safer on the national road network.
In the early 1970s, 52 years earlier, the federal government commissioned the cantons of Schwyz and Uri to build a new Exenstrae. An implementation project is available since 2014. Two new tunnels are to be built at Sisikön and Morsch. In the future, the accident site at Wolfsprung will be bypassed in the mountain.
The courts have been dealing with the project for eight years. So, the construction work is still not really started. This is despite the fact that the cantonal parliaments of Schwyz and Uri have approved the project. Schweizer also explicitly rejected an initiative that called for a cantonal referendum on Exenstrasse.
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waiting for court decision
Why there are so many legal problems with securing Axenstrasse: Several environmental organizations have objected to the new Axenstrasse. The Alpine Initiative, VCS Uri & Schwyz and environmental protection doctors are complaining because the Department for Environment, Transport and Energy (UVEK) has approved the actual new line, but not the accompanying measures on the existing Exenstrasse. The plaintiffs fear more traffic on this north-south axis would undermine the protection of the Alps enshrined in the constitution.
The project’s measures should be revised again, the department ordered by federal councilor Simonetta Somaruga (62). This is not enough for environmental organizations. An appeal against the plan approval decision has been pending in the Federal Administrative Court since June 2020. Since then, the parties involved have been awaiting the court’s decision.
No one knows when construction will start
Environmental organizations blame the judiciary for the delay – delays that lead to further threats on Exenstrasse. “It is not environmental organizations that are responsible for the fact that the new Exenstrasse is delayed, but the courts,” Alf Arnold of VCS Uri is quoted as saying by NZZ.
Eventually, preparatory work has begun for a temporary auxiliary bridge in the Gumpish area, which is particularly at risk. There, rocks often slip, which then triggers the automatic blocking of the road through traffic lights.
The complete Axenstrasse will be secured in nine years at the earliest. It will take at least 2031 for wolf jumps and other dangerous places to disappear. But only if it is created. If it was once assumed that the new line would be operational in 2024, it is now expected that construction will begin in 2023, as Schwyz Cantonal engineer Daniel Kasubek told Blick. But still 2023 is in the stars. “We don’t know when that will happen,” says Arnold of VCS Uri. (Case)
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