Late on Wednesday morning Prince Albert inspected the safety facilities of the Albert II tunnel, which provides a fast connection between the Jardin Exotique and Boulevard Rainier III. After construction lasting 52 months, the tunnel was opened in mid-July this year and has eased congestion on a popular commuting route into the Fontvieille business district.
The Sovereign Prince was accompanied by HE Minister of State, Serge Telle, and many senior Monegasque and French personalities. The visit began with a blessing by Archbishop Bernard Barsi, the Archbishop of Monaco, and a statuette of Saint Barbara, patron saint of tunnel boring machines, was placed in a niche at the entrance of the tunnel.
“The objective of this project, to construct a tunnel that would channel 40 percent of the traffic from blvd Jardin Exotique to Rainier III, has been surpassed, as today nearly 50 percent of motorists use this tunnel, mainly to reach the district of Fontvieille, a figure that reaches 70 percent during peak hours in the morning,” declared Marie-Pierre Gramaglia, Minister for Infrastructure, Environment and Urban Development.
The one-way Albert II tunnel is over 1,700 m long, 6.10 m wide, with a clear height of 4.50 m. The building of the tunnel involved more than two hundred people and required the excavation of nearly 400,000 tons of rock and the use of 250,000 tons of concrete. The cost was €106.5 million.
Safety is a key element with eight fire shelters spaced 200 metres apart; 32 fire niches spaced 50 metres apart; a gallery parallel to the tunnel for access by the emergency services and road connecting with the tunnel Rainier III. Security is provided by a fibre optic fire detection and automatic incident detection system and CCTV footage from 22 cameras.