When rock from the Gotthard Base Tunnel heads to the beach
After lying dormant in the heart of the mountain for several million years, a portion of the 28 million tonnes of material excavated to build the Gotthard Base Tunnel has been given a new and somewhat more exotic lease of life. It now brings smiles to the faces of holidaymakers and sunbathers on the shores of Lake Uri and Sedrun. These projects, which were realised at no additional cost, are perfect examples of a sustainable commitment that benefits the environment, the economy and society.
The Lorelei bathing islands – Central Switzerland's answer to the Caribbean
Although most islands are as old as Earth itself, there's no need to go all the way to the Caribbean to experience the enjoyment of swimming in an idyllic archipelago. You only need to go as far as Lake Uri to appreciate this eco project and to soak up some sun. The innovative and long-term backfill project on the shoreline of Lake Uri was not only designed for the enjoyment of bathers. Its primary aim was to protect the wildlife and the landscape as it had been observed that when the foehn blew, the waves would hit the shores of the lake and end up eroding them. The islands of the Neptune nature reserve and those of the Lorelei were created to protect the shoreline from this climatic phenomenon. Moreover, this development has given rise to a shallow area, which is invaluable for wildlife and which provides a suitable environment for flora and fauna to flourish.
A safe place to swim
This mini archipelago, which covers an area of half a hectare (5,000 square metres), was built using the rubble extracted during the construction of the Gotthard Base Tunnel. Following some five years of backfilling work using the material excavated from the site, the three new islands were officially inaugurated on 24 and 25 June 2005. The area was designed to be a place for people to enjoy time out with friends and family. The islands are strewn with large flat stones, inviting visitors to sit back and relax. Reefs and shoals were placed in front of the islands to act as wave-breakers. A trench with steps carved into the rock was also dug out between two islands to allow visitors to cross the bay. They can therefore relax and enjoy bathing in a safe environment.
In terms of flora and fauna, no fewer than 200 species of plant and 70 species of bird have made this area and the surrounding nature reserve their home. The project has therefore also benefited local wildlife.
Lag Claus Surrein in Sedrun
Construction of the Gotthard Base Tunnel also provided Sedrun with a new spot for swimming. Since the construction work generated more rubble than planned, the commune of Tujetsch decided to create a lake. Situated in an idyllic spot with stunning views of the mountains, this little piece of paradise invites visitors to sit back and take it easy. The water reaches very pleasant temperatures in the summer, much to the delight of local residents and tourists.
These developments are veritable assets for the region. Indeed, the Gotthard Base Tunnel not only allows you to travel from the north to the south of the country in 20 minutes, it has also given rise to a number of idyllic spots for rest and relaxation.