The “Rosengarten” project, which incorporates a new surface streetcar (tram) line, involves a 2.3-kilometre underground road of mostly four-lanes, with vehicles travelling in different directions through separate two-lane tubes.
The tunnel would follow a traffic artery extending from the Ichelpark area to Wipkingerplatz, northwest of Zurich’s main train station near the Limmat River.
The new Rosengarten tram line would be 3.2 kilometres long, connecting the Albisriederplatz, while the road tunnel would put traffic of around 56,000 vehicles a day underground.
Ernst Stocker, economy minister for the canton of Zurich, said the corridor lacks the space for conventional transport infrastructure.
“We also want to protect the population from the effects of traffic,” he said in a statement issued on the cantonal government’s website.
The scheme is part of a larger scheme to encourage more people in increasingly dense neighbourhoods to use public transport.
The total cost of the project is estimated at 860 million francs, with a contingency for cost overruns of up to 30 percent.
The canton is prepared to pay the lion’s share of the costs but the project is not expected to be completed for close to 20 years.
The schedule unveiled by the governments calls for a three-year period to finalize the design, followed by consultation periods, a possible cantonal referendum in 2018-2019, followed by a four-year appeal period.
If construction is okayed it will take a further seven years to build the tunnel before the tram can be put in place by 2032.
Initial response to the project appears to be positive.
An informal online survey by Tages Anzeiger showed 72 percent of respondents felt it was a “sensible” idea with 11 percent saying it was “too big” and 17 percent regarding it as “needless”.