2023 has been a bad year for the tunnels connecting the north and south of eastern Switzerland. On 10 August 2023 a train derailed and forced the closure of one of the train tunnels running between the cantons of Uri and Ticino. Then on Sunday 10 September 2023, parts of the roof of the Gotthard road tunnel began to crumble.
On Sunday, shortly after 4 p.m., the cantonal police in Uri received reports that concrete had come loose from the ceiling of the Gotthard road tunnel and fallen onto the road.
The tunnel was closed in both directions, resulting in queues of vehicles several kilometres long. In some cases, vehicles already in the tunnel had to turn around before driving out. Since then car traffic has be rerouted via the San Bernardino route and the Gotthard pass road.
No one was injured in the incident, according to the Federal Roads Office (FEDRO). After inspecting the tunnel FEDRO found a 25 metre long crack in the false ceiling of the tunnel roof. The ceiling is not structural.
It is thought the cause of the damage is stress from movements in the mountains. These can create pressure and put strain on the tunnel cuasing cracks in the false ceiling. However, no definitive conclusions have been drawn at this point.
On Friday the tunnel was reopened. In a first phase, the speed limit in the 17-kilometre-long tunnel between will be reduced 60 km/h instead of the normal 80 km/h for safety reasons. This means that detours over the pass routes, which extended the journey by around an hour, are no longer necessary.