December 11 2013

Prospects for a Tunnel Beneath the Harbor in Geneva, Switzerland

A view of Geneva, Switzerland.

In the beginning, Michèle Künzler, a state councillor formerly employed in the Department of the Interior and Mobility, implied that voting for the “Let’s Save our Parks” initiative could condemn the project for a tunnel under the city’s harbor.

I have to say that hearing the representative from the Verts, an ecological political party, utter the words “harbor crossing” was an important moment, especially in light of the party’s desire to cause traffic jams, and their insistence on staking everything on the bridge, which is to be constructed in the distant future. But, the fact is that she only talked about it in order to announce bad news…

However, it seems the tunnel is not doomed. In the newspaper La Tribune, an article penned by Eric Budry assures that it could be carried out if the residents of Geneva decide so.

In his article he cites pronouncements made by Christian Grobet, originator of the “Let’s Save Our Parks” campaign.

“A simple local by-law cannot be put forward against a cantonal law,” explains Grobet, the deputy of the Ensemble à Gauche. Clearly, the higher law takes priority. “Therefore, France Avenue is not included within the protected area. If the tunnel starts from there, the ruling does not change anything. So hypothetically, if the underpass approach encroaches upon city land, the state could expropriate it,” notes the deputy.

Grobet’s initiative was therefore not an attack against the tunnel project. And Mrs. Künzler is right to become worried because this will allow her to become better informed on the issue. Nevertheless, it will be necessary to vote yes for the tunnel next year. It seems that a majority prefer the idea of a long lake crossing, to a highway bridge off the shore of the Pallanterie.

A tunnel, Geneva, Switzerland

That may be so, but there are two things to consider:

  1. The bridge is planned for thirty or fifty years from now. The continued refusal to increase the price for license plate stickers is not going to be convenient for the federal financing of national roadways. Therefore, it would not be a good idea at all to wait and do nothing.

  1. On top of the delay, the highway bridge will clear a negligible amount of traffic and European transit. It will have a limited impact on traffic within the near proximity of the river.

The tunnel is therefore truly useful, and complementary to the future bridge. A region like Geneva, and the neighboring country of France, deserves to have several good transportation routes, for the quality of life of their citizens and for their economies.

Therefore, yes to the tunnel beneath the harbor in 2014.

But, what about the beach? Will it be prevented by the new by-laws passed on November 26, 2013?

What can be done to ensure that public officials, especially those belonging to ecological parties, are aware of how political and legal decisions affect plans for urban development?

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

Original article, originally published in French, here.

Marcus Khoury

Marcus Khoury is a recent graduate of the University of California Los Angeles, where he obtained a B.A. in French & Francophone Studies. Aside from his native Michigan, Marcus has lived in several states, in addition to France and Chile. Owing to his experiences with a variety of cultures, languages, and environments, he has always been keenly interested in how the exchange of ideas between different cities, regions, and countries helps to shape both physical and cultural landscapes. His linguistic background, in addition to his interest in the diversity of international urban environments and experiences, has led Marcus to fill the position of French Language Translator at The Grid, where he will be translating and presenting French language material involving environmental design.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 11th, 2013 at 9:29 am and is filed under Government/Politics, Infrastructure, Transportation. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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