The world's longest road tunnel will open on Friday (5 September) giving north European motorists their quickest and most direct route through the Alps to Italy.
AV Swiss Alps from the air, covered in snow.
GV Beginnings of excavations t the Gotthard tunnel site. Exterior workings. (MONO) (3 SHOTS)
GV EXTERIOR Large excavation vehicles moving around tunnel site.
GV & CU INTERIOR Closed circuit TV. (2 SHOTS)
CU & SV PAN Showing detonator being pushed and miners cover ears from noise of explosion. (3 SHOTS)
GV TILT DOWN OF Mountain highway leading to tunnel site.
SV PAN & SV Underground power unit. (3 SHOTS)
GV TRAVELLING SHOT OF INTERIOR OF new tunnel.
GV PAN EXTERIOR Mountain road through nearby village.
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Background: The world's longest road tunnel will open on Friday (5 September) giving north European motorists their quickest and most direct route through the Alps to Italy. The 16 kilometre (10 miles) St. Gotthard tunnel was built by the Swiss at a cost of 420 million dollars.
SYNOPSIS: This is the section of the snow-capped Lepontine Alps near the St. Gotthard Pass through which the two-lane tunnel has been built.
Work on the tunnel began 11 years ago. At its peak the workforce totalled 750 men, mostly italians, Turks and Yugoslavs working under Swiss supervisors.
More than one and a half million cubic metres of rock were excavated from the mountain. Nineteen workers were killed during construction.
Once traffic is moving through the tunnel, police will rely on closed-circuit television as safety aids. They will check strict observance of the speed limit and the ban on overtaking. But even as the last rock was blasted from the mountain there were pessimistic forecasts that the tunnel would cause massive traffic jams. Others fear an acceleration of the environmental damage which motor vehicles are inflicting on the Alps.
Four huge ventilator shafts will ensure the air remains clean inside the tunnel. The amount of air blown in and sucked out will be regulated by computers linked to sensitive wind and smoke meters.
The tunnel has a capacity of 1800 cars an hour in both directions. But if needed, the traffic can be switched to one-way only.
Once opened, the tunnel will cut four hours off the time it takes to travel the same direction over the mountain passes.