On Sunday, September 28 the Genèvois will be heading to the ballot boxes to vote on initiative 152; whether to build a tunnel under the lake between Port Noir (near Park des Eaux-Vives) and Avenue de France (near the Park Mon Repos).
The debate is heated and for good reason.
This initiative has been put on the ballot by the UDC (the conservative right-wing Swiss People’s Party); and supported by the MCG (the extreme-right Geneva Citizens Movement), the TCS and the president of the TPG. The objective is for cars and trucks to by-pass the Mont Blanc Bridge, allowing cars, buses, bikes and pedestrians to pass more freely on the bridge and “increase the quality of life for everyone.”
Their claims are:
- The project would cost between CHF 660 to CHF 700 million.
- Reduce traffic on Quai de Wilson by 60% and Quai de Gutave-Ador by 52%
- Reduce traffic on the Mont Blanc Bridge by 42%
- Reduce traffic on Chantepoulet 22 Cantons by 33% and Route de Malagnou by 30%
“With the new tunnel, one avoids the city center and traffic is reduced.”
The NON Vote
The Cantonal government and all other political parties, on both sides of the political spectrum, are against the Tunnel under the Rade initiative. In a video on the webpage of the Tribune de Genève, the President of the Association of Transportation and Environment claims:
- The project would cost CHF 1.5 billion (the cantonal government estimates CHF 1.1 billion.)
- Geneva already has CHF 13 Billion in debt.
- Building a tunnel 500 meters from the Mont Blanc Bridge does not circumnavigate the city.
- The result will be an 13%-50% increase in traffic around the canton of Geneva.
- The city roads (especially the intersection at Rue de France) and the auto route are already saturated with cars so the tunnel will not eliminate traffic jams it will just create more of them while increasing pollution.
My first take on this initiative was “finally!” but then I took a closer look.
First, anyone who has experienced major road works such as the Vésenaz tunnel or the CEVA project knows the traffic jams, noise, dust and pollution involved with these kinds of projects. I can guarantee the lake along the left and right banks will be a miserable place to be during these years and the traffic jams will be enormous due to lane closures and moving big equipment..
Secondly, so far I have not seen information regarding how our already debt-ridden city will pay for the tunnel, nor how many years this project will take.
Lastly, a tunnel under the “rade” has been debated since 1896. It is an old idea that needs to be replaced with modern solutions. In the year 2020, that the UDC speaks about, do we truly believe more roads and cars are the future we want in our city?
Rather than sticking a CHF 700 million to CHF 1.1 billion Band-Aid on our problem, Geneva needs to invest in a long-term, cohesive transportation solution which includes Canton Vaud and neighboring France. Personally I would like future-Geneva to have clean air and be whole lot quieter when I ride my bike into town.
- To see the one-minute videos by the opposing sides visit: Tribune de Genève.
- To view the alternate plan that has been debated at the federal level, visit : Traversée du lac.
- The Tribune de Genève is organizing a debate at Uni Dufour on Tuesday, September 16 at 20:00. For more information go to this link.
We are a group of international women living in Geneva, Switzerland. If you would like to join the AIWC, please visit our website at http://www.aiwcgeneva.org/
Stephanie Braghero said:
Hi, I’m also curious for the outcome on this heated debate and especially not being able to give my vote either way but yet like many feel deeply affected by the decision.
Having just settled here a year ago after more than 10 years in Zurich (and longer elsewhere in CH) why not a traffic ferry system like on Lake Zurich? (http://www.faehre.ch) Both “rives” are accessible and one bypasses the city center altogether. There needs to be an ample space for the loading and unloading areas but they are extremely environmentally conscious in Zurich (perhaps even stronger than here) and those car ferries run every 10 MINUTES and I just read now every 6-7.5 minutes during peak times!! Even pedestrians, large trucks, and cyclists use this method. It was crucial when I commuted from the right bank of the lake to the south of Luzern over 2 years for work. You still have to pay but those who use it pay. Perhaps it gets subsidies from the city, canton, etc.
It’s a pity as you suggest too that no pitches and clear budget and financing of the proposed tunnel have been brought forth. I’d like to personally see an option other than the for-profit tour companies using the largest lake in Western Europe as a means to commute into Geneva. How I’d love to commute into the city by ferry from La Belotte, Pointe la bise, or Corsier Port to get downtown. Enjoy a coffee on board and arrive in peace along the water’s edge. !! That’s Swiss relaxing life. Oh, that is yet another solution than the car ferry above: the ZVV Zurich public transportation system integrates the ferries INTO their commuting network. It’s not just for private cruising and touring like on lac Léman and only private companies profiting. It would bring the lakesides more into the Geneva city life and cut down on car traffic. How much nicer to travel by waterway like in Seattle or NYC versus by bus!! (Since no regional train network like in Zrh exists here: the S-Bahn).
Anyway, my two cents and like you, I first said, yes!!, enthusiastically to this initiative on 28 September. Yet, why aren’t other solutions proposed that discourage driving and more in line with the environmental impact, and using existing resources encouraging the pace of an enjoyable lakeside “city” like Geneva endeavors to offer??…!!
Thanks for the post
Stephanie, I appreciate your explanation of the Zurich lake transportation system. I had a friend who also used it on a daily basis to get into the city but I could not comprehend how it could work. It must be a Geneva mentality!
Jackie Rickenbach said:
Dear Alpenhorn! I like your clarification of this thorny subject. Like you my first thoughts were for a big yes but then I started to think about it. It depends what you want but l live in the suburbs and, whereas it used to be so quiet, calm and countrified, all the outer suburbs are now inundated with rush hour traffic of unbelievable proportions. Fact is that this tunnel project is only positive for the town center and will definitely cause more traffic further out. The narrow suburban roads are already saturated and I won’t go into the pollution it causes. My vote is therefore resounding NO!
As to the above ferry idea, I have also thought of this but can’t see Geneva going there. (mentality?) I’d be interested in an eventual beautiful bridge further out over the lake and linking up with the autoroutes on each side, but guess I won’t live to see that happen.