The nearly 30-year debate for and against a way to drive across Lake Geneva took a tentative step forward recently.
The Geneva bypass, which would alleviate bumper-to-bumper traffic creeping through the city’s highway system, will probably be a bridge, not a tunnel, according to a preliminary cantonal report. Or maybe it will be a bridge with tunnels at each end. Or maybe nothing at all.
In 1988 Geneva Canton voters said they wanted some kind of lake crossing. Then, 8 years later, they voted against any kind of crossing. Then in 2016 they again voted for a crossing. Today, with the highway around the city of Geneva increasingly clogged, public sentiment – especially among drivers making the daily commute to and from the city – is mostly in favor of some kind of lake crossing on the city’s outskirts.
But what kind?
Proponents for the bridge note that it will be less expensive to build and maintain than a tunnel, and could join the Jet d’Eau as a beautiful new architectural icon of the region. Plus it would allow for bicycle and foot traffic. And maybe fishing? Bungee-jumping?
The tunnel crowd, which includes the Green Party, the World Wildlife Fund and Pro Natura say the greater expense of that option will pay dividends in keeping the vistas across the lake pristine. Aesthetically, the bridge would be “monstrous”, said the Green Party’s Mathias Buschbeck last year, though no design has been decided upon. A tunnel would also avoid the noise pollution of all that traffic over the lake, not to mention keeping it clear for boats.
In the famous spirit of Swiss compromise, the region may end up with a bit of both – tunnels at each end and a bridge rising in the middle of the lake. Or, because political and public opinions are still divided and the price tag is an estimated CHF 3.3 billion, nothing at all.
A new recommendation report from the canton is due at the end of September 2017.
By Bill Harby