Switzerland has created the longest overland tunnel on earth, connecting Germany and Italy through Switzerland, measuring almost 35 kilometers, and speeding travel through the Swiss Alps.
N THE LOETSCHBERG BASE TUNNEL, Switzerland - With a ceremony that went off like a classic Swiss timepiece, officials Friday inaugurated the world's longest overland tunnel, a 34.6-kilometer-long (21-mile-long) rail link under the Alps meant to ease highway traffic jams in the mountainous country.
The tunnel, which took eight years to build and cost 4.3 billion Swiss francs ($3.5 billion), will trim the time trains need to cross between Germany and Italy from 3 1/2 hours to just under two.
The first train through the tunnel was a freight carrying Swiss Transport Minister Moritz Leuenberger, arriving in the town of Frutigen at the tunnel's north entrance. It burst through a banner declaring "Loetschberg — Connecting Europe" to the cheers of more than 1,000 people and the popping of fireworks.
"We have moved a mountain," Leuenberger said.
Granted, it didn't have to be done in the middle of busy traffic in a busy city, but let's look at a brief comparison between this one and Boston's big dig.
- Boston: roughly $16 billion - Switzerland: $3.5 billion
- Boston: 20 years - Switzerland: 8 years
- Boston: about 2 miles, one new tunnel and a bridge, and several entrances and exits - Switzerland - a straight shot, but dug through several mountains and about 20 miles long.
Oh, and given the Swiss reputation for engineering precision and attention to detail, perhaps falling tunnel roof panels and civilian deaths can be avoided. Maybe we should have brought the Swiss in and just handed them the project.