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Rosengartentunnel vote on 9th February

filed on: 21.01.2020 (21st Jan 2020)

Rosengarten tunnel tram

An important vote is approaching. On 9th February the voters of the Canton of Zürich will decide on the Rosengartentunnel project. At the centre of this dicussion is the major road via Rosengartenstrasse and Bucheggstrasse that forms the continuation of Hardbrücke northward to Milchbuck (where it joins a tunnel towards the motorway). The thoroughfare is used by 56,000 vehicles a day. The future of this road has long been a subject of much political dispute, not least because it cuts through a densely populated area. The road lobby have favoured replacing the road by a tunnel which they claim would permit traffic to flow more freely while relieving traffic conditions on the surface. Pro-public-transport groups have opposed this and instead sought to reduce capacity and discourage driving in the city altogether.

Compromises are, fortunately, always the favoured way of resolving political differences in Switzerland. A compromise led to a proposal involving a road tunnel (rebranded from Waidhaldetunnel to Rosengartentunnel and somewhat reduced in scope), with a tram line being built on the surface. The tram line would run from Milchbuck to Albisriederplatz (incorporating the already built section on Hardbrücke) as proposed in VBZ's Vision 2025 (published 2006).

Such compromises between political adversaries are often endangered by opportunism. In 2010, a popular referendum to build the tram part without building the tunnel, thus effectively constricting road capacity, was rejected by 65.9%. Fortunately that result was not widely used to discredit the tram proposal.

Rosengarten tunnel tram

The official project will be voted on on 9th February. The total cost of the project will be 1,100 million CHF. The 3.1km of new tram line account for 165 million and the road tunnel 600 million, with the rest for planning, reserve, and the acquisition of some properties.

The project is supported by the centre-right parties but opposed by some of the centre-left (although supported by some public transport groups). A recent survey shows 49 percent of voters in favour of the project with 27 percent against, with opponents gaining ground (according to this NZZ article).

The alignment is presently used by trolleybus 72 throughout and for a short section at its lower end by trolleybus 33. At its Milchbuck end also by diesel bus route 69 which is one of those earmarked for conversion to trolleybus. I have not seen any announcement on how these will be affected but cutbacks are highly likely, with the 72 most definitely losing its justification.

It is of course inevitable that the construction phase will lead to some disruptions. But the tunnel itself will be bored rather than built by cut and cover, and will not follow the present road alignment, instead taking a more gradual and elongated curve to avoid the gradient. I also assume that, in order to minimize disruption, construction of the tram line will not start in earnest until the road tunnel has been opened.

The artists' impressions above (created by Architron) show the tunnel portal at its lower (Wipikingen) end with two Cobra trams (upper picture), and another Cobra underway further uphill (lower picture - in the discontinued livery of the prototypes).

source: NZZ article on Rosengartentram

This news item is from the 2020 newslog.

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