A Change of Direction
The direction of traffic was reversed yesterday for an hour, during post-work rush hour, to test the alternative possibility of diverting traffic in the event of high traffic.
This possibility was first tested for a few minutes during the Easter holiday, in order to check the technical feasibility of the project. Yesterday afternoon, a bigger test was carried out, and traffic was changed for an hour in the descending Albert II tunnel, that begins in Boulevard Jardin Exotique and reaches the Wurtemberg roundabout above Fontvieille.
The all clear was given at 5:03 pm by the CIGM, which regulates the traffic in the Principality, and in 15 minutes with the help of the public safety officers the traffic was reversed and the traffic signals changed. After this buffer period, the first few cars were able to use the tunnel to reach the Moyenne Corniche.
Some weaknesses became apparent during the test: at the Wurtemberg roundabout, drivers hesitated to take the Albert II tunnel as they were used to it working in the other direction, therefore the help of the public safety officers was a necessity. Another ‘hiccup’ occurred at the end of the tunnel at Boulevard Jardin Exotique where the road merges with the traffic, where yet again the help of the officers was needed to ensure the steady flow of traffic.
The members of Equipment, Environment and Urban Planning made a few comments: “At the beginning, the direction of traffic in the tunnel could not be reversed, but during its construction we invested in the creation of corbels along the Boulevard du Jardin Exotique, to widen the lane and allow for 3 lanes”. “That being said, the change in traffic direction will solely be for exceptional cases and will not be a daily occurrence”.
In any case, the possibility of reversing traffic will be useful in minimizing traffic jams on big match nights at the Stade Louis II or during events at the Chapiteau in Fontvieille.
It will also be used in May during the Grand Prix race day to incite drivers to take the reversed tunnel in order to avoid traffic jams at the Canton roundabouts. Drivers headed towards Italy can also take the tunnel to quickly reach the Moyenne Corniche and access the highway entrance located by the Vista Palace.
Furthermore, it could also be used to clear traffic in case of unexpected situations, like when the Basse Corniche had to be closed off recently after a pipeline exploded on Avenue du 3 September in Cap d’Ail.
Traffic greatly reduced
Since it was commissioned in July 2016, the Albert II tunnel has undoubtedly changed the flow of traffic in the Principality. “Mainly, it reduced the extensive traffic along the Boulevard du Jardin Exotique”, noted Marie-Pierre Gramaglia, the governor counsellor for EEU. It reduced traffic in that area by about 50% – on Monday for example, 7409 cars out of the 13000 recorded used the tunnel. The difference is noticeable; on Avenue Princesse Grace for example, 23000 cars were recorded passing through in April 2016, and now a year later on the same date and at the same time, only 11000 cars passed through – definitely an effective change.