We have a round-up of the woes surrounding the repairs to the Mont Blanc tunnel after the disastrous fire in 1999 that killed 37 people.
30 January 2002
The Mt Blanc tunnel has passed its smoke evacuation tests. The safety steering committee will meet on the 8th February to decide when the tunnel will be reopened to car traffic.
5 February 2002
The opening of the Mt Blanc tunnel to cars will be delayed by 1 - 2 weeks following the discovery of cracks in the roof.
24 February 2002
The French minister of Transport has announced that the Mt Blanc Tunnel will finally open for cars on Saturday 9 March if the security conditions and new repair work are finished on time. The Tunnel will then re-open for trucks two weeks later, although this is a sensitive issue as the memorial service for 39 victims of the 1999 disaster will take place on the 24 of March.
04 March 2002
The Mont Blanc tunnel completed its final safety test this weekend and will re-open on the 9th of March to car traffic as scheduled. The tests involved a full scale accident simulation with rescue being effected using the small service tunnel beneath the highway. A small electric ambulance has been designed to pass through this tunnel. The tests, involving over a hundred personnel, were scheduled to go ahead mid-morning but were delayed slightly by an avalanche near the French side involving 4 off-piste skiers.
16 March 2002
In the first week of operation 600 hundred drivers have been fined for speeding in the Mt Blanc Tunnel. The fastest driver was an Italian driving at 150 kp/h, he was fined 900 €. The speed limit in the tunnel is 70kp/h with strict enforcement by radar.
26 March 2002
French and Italian governments have finally agreed to a phased reintroduction of trucks to the Mt Blanc tunnel. This was after truck drivers threatened to blockade the tunnel and after the Italian government protested to the European Commission. Italy estimates that it has lost 2 Billion Euros since the tunnel closed in 1999 after a fire killing 39 people.