The Axenstrasse is one of the most beautiful main roads in Central Switzerland. It is about 11km long. “On peak days there are up to 14 000 vehicles” (p1 Ref. 1). It is a two-way road with no structural separation of oncoming traffic. On the days I drove this road, the traffic volumes seemed not too different from the 18km-long SH2 drive between Paeroa and Waihi through the Karangahake Gorge, which has a daily traffic volume (DTV) of 8,374, of which 10% is heavy traffic.
This is a great drive for the passenger. Being the driver, my job was to watch my speed and position in the lane. In Switzerland, as in most places in the world, high traffic volumes are needed to justify the building of expensive, high-speed roads. Page 5 of Ref. 1 below explains why this Swiss road allows oncoming traffic that is not physically separated from the other lane as follows: “a DTV 20,000, a Truck percentage of more than 15 % requires two-tube systems”.
Ref. 1 – http://www.axen.ch/fileadmin/dateien/dokumente/axen_fragen_und_antworten.pdf
Axenstrasse also has a history of many crashes. “Accident Statistics 1990-2015: 547 traffic accidents (5 deaths, 59 serious injuries, 203 slight injuries, property damage amounting to approximately 5 million Swiss francs)” (p15) http://www.axen.ch/fileadmin/dateien/dokumente/u_20160303_axen-initiative_praesentation.pdf .
To benchmark this to New Zealand’s SH2 Karangahake Gorge, this report from http://www.robertnz.net/pdf/Karangahake.pdf Does anyone have up to date crash numbers?
Here is the postcard, Tellskapelle. Magnificent views of beautiful mountains, lake, and Swiss brown cows with bells.
And below is another post card, of Morschach. We can see pedestrian crossings on this road; something we don’t see anywhere along SH2 in Karangahake Gorge, even when there are recognized access points and places with high volumes of pedestrians such as the Karangahake rest area and Waikino Tavern.
The first question New Zealanders should be asking our highway engineers is: If the Karangahake Gorge was in Switzerland, would Swiss transport engineers allow pedestrian crossings? – More ped crossing Morschach rest area
A more serious question is what speed limits would Swiss transport engineers use on a road like SH2 through Karangahake Gorge. NZ highway engineers have set the speed limits at 80kph with advisory speeds of 45 – 55 – 65 kph.
Driving the 11 km between Fluelen and Brunnen the speed limit does not go above 80km/h, and there are no advisory speeds. Where the road is not suitable for 80 kph, the legal speed limit is lowered to 60 km/h for reasonably long distances, making it a less hurried drive. There are also reductions to 50 km/h down to 30 km/h in urban areas, encouraging people to stop and spend locally.
Question: Is the Swiss approach safer? Do New Zealanders believe there is a safety benefit to using advisory speeds as opposed to having lower legal speeds? Does the NZTA Speed management guide allow 60kph speed limits on road like SH2 K Gorge? (p12) https://www.nzta.govt.nz/assets/Planning-and-investment/knowledge-base/Uploads/Documents/Speed-Management-Guide-final-draft-1-September-2015-2.pdf
A. Here is a You-Tube drive through CH / Axenstrasse
B. Axenstrasse project web site – http://www.axen.ch/Projekt.9.0.html
“with up to 14,000 vehicles/day”(p30)
“Two tubes? No, because: – Only from DTV 20,000 required” (p41)
C. Locations of speed signs.
80km/h sign motorway Brunnen Nov 2013 https://goo.gl/maps/YUwrvN9krYv
Starts – 60/80km/h sign Brunnen Nov 2014 https://goo.gl/maps/PYzetbHzzxM2
50 km/h sign entering Sisikon Nov 2014 https://goo.gl/maps/Qz5avDAHutL2
50 km/h sign in Sisiken Nov 2014 https://goo.gl/maps/gYHLoNGERQE2
60 km/h limit ends sign for south bound traffic Nov 2014 https://goo.gl/maps/CWj6QohVbbJ2
80 km/h signs with 60 km/h signs in tunnel before entering Fluelen – see youtube
60 km/h sign at roundabout Fluelen https://goo.gl/maps/NhY1K1vqPdp
80 km/h sign on motor way Fluelen https://goo.gl/maps/q5AvsxoYLu92
100 km/h sign on to motorway away from Fluelen https://goo.gl/maps/rWdgcrNDY162
60 km/h sign on motorway entering Fluelen https://goo.gl/maps/kuw5K5oTzB62
60 km/h sign entering Fluelen https://goo.gl/maps/Fx1xCFMb1W72
80/60 km/h sign entering tunnel leaving Fluelen https://goo.gl/maps/ZHRUs8HxNqH2
60 km/h limit ends sign for north bound traffic north of Fluelen https://goo.gl/maps/qE92RAP8Z7S2
50 km/h sign Tunnel before entering Sisiken Nov 2014 https://goo.gl/maps/4KmgyJc5PXq
50 km/h limit ends sign for north bound traffic north of Sisiken https://goo.gl/maps/YMXcbMWnzK22
60/80 km/h sign tunnel before Brunnen Nov 2014 https://goo.gl/maps/zFdKo9ZLqqw
Old 80 km/h (& 40 km/h) sign tunnel before Brunnen Oct 2013 https://goo.gl/maps/fWNkz4YGuAR2
100 km/h sign motorway Brunnen Nov 2014 https://goo.gl/maps/CpXTgysNXbJ2