Italy, France agree to postpone closure of Mont Blanc tunnel by a year
MILAN (Reuters) – Key maintenance works on the Mont Blanc tunnel between Italy and France have been postponed until September next year, Italy’s transport ministry said, after the partial closure of an alternative Alpine route caused major traffic disruptions in recent weeks.
A decision on the rescheduling of work on the Mont Blanc tunnel, which is 11.6 kilometres (7.2 miles) long, had been expected this week after an initial accord between Italy’s and France’s transport ministries for a delay.
The Alpine crossing — used by more than 1.7 million vehicles last year — had been due to close from Monday Sept. 4 for 15 weeks for works to be carried out.
During a meeting on Thursday, Italian and French officials agreed to postpone the main works by a year and discussed timelines for the reopening of the alternative Frejus tunnel, which was disrupted by a landslide on the French side of the border, Italy’s transport ministry said.
The Mont Blanc and Frejus tunnels are key to Italy’s exports to France, and there were concerns that their double closure would come at heavy economic cost.
According to Italian business lobby Assolombarda, 1.4 million trucks, carrying more than 12 million tons of goods passed through the two tunnels in 2021.
(Reporting by Federico Maccioni; Editing by Keith Weir)