Ascension Bridge: up to 6 hours to pass through the Fréjus tunnel, "an unprecedented level of traffic"

It took until 6 hours to pass through the Fréjus tunnel on Wednesday May 8, “There’s not much we can do” to alleviate traffic jams, recognizes Nicolas Michet, on-call director of SFTRF, the company that operates the Fréjus Tunnel. He was invited Thursday May 9 on France Bleu Pays de Savoie.

“I can understand that users are annoyed at having spent a good part of the day in traffic jams, but unfortunately there was very heavy traffic completely concentrated on Wednesday, describes the on-call director. We had an unprecedented level of traffic towards Italy. We had a concentration of vehicles who wanted to go to Italy to take advantage of this long weekend.”

Due to high traffic, “We first had a traffic jam which started early in the morning on the access ramp to the Fréjus tunnel. We had 4 to 5 km of traffic jams on the access ramp almost all day long.continues Nicolas Michet. This first traffic jam is generated by the fact that at the tunnel level we have a timing at the toll level because we have a regulatory interdistance to respect [150 mètres entre chaque véhicule] in the tunnel for its crossing towards Italy”.

Then very quickly, mid-morning, “this cork began to descend even lower, to lengthen”, relates Nicolas Michet. From 10 a.m., the situation became complicated. “Between the Saint-Michel toll barrier and the access ramp to the tunnel, we have other tunnels, and we must absolutely avoid having traffic jams going back into these tunnels, or even vehicles stopped in the tunnels because that in this case, we would have to close the highway.” The company therefore had to regulate traffic at the Saint-Michel toll barrier. “to avoid creating traffic jams further away”.

Furthermore, it was impossible to divert motorists onto the secondary network: “On the Maurienne, we cannot send users to the secondary network which is not able to accept all this traffic transfer, especially between Saint-Michel and Modane, since there is no no more passable secondary network due to the landslide which occurred last summer in the Praz area, analysis Nicolas Michet. There the secondary network is closed anyway”. And towards Italy, “the Mont Blanc alternative was also saturated”.

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