A key tunnel connecting France and Italy is set to reopen this weekend, easing trade disruptions that have plagued transalpine traffic during the summer.
The 13-kilometer (8.1 miles) Frejus tunnel, one of the most important trade routes across the Alps, has been closed since late August after a major landslide. It will reopen this weekend, possibly as early as Saturday, French Transport Minister Clement Beaune said in an interview on local radio on Friday.
Rail traffic through a separate tunnel in the area will likely remain halted. Beaune said on Aug. 31 that reparations would take “at least a couple of months.”
While the reopening of the Frejus tunnel will make it easier to send cargo between Italy and France, which had bilateral trade worth $112 billion in 2022, further disruptions are looming. Renovation work will shut down the 11.6-kilometer Mont Blanc tunnel, though the timeline for that closing remains unclear.
Beaune said on Friday that renovations will start “in a few days,” though for a shorter period than the 15 weeks that had originally been planned. Italy’s Transport Minister Matteo Salvini said on Thursday evening that “the most significant works” would be delayed to September 2024.
Trade disruption across the Alps this summer also saw the closing of the 57-kilometer Gotthard tunnel between Italy and Switzerland, which has now reopened at reduced capacity, and recurrent delays at the Brenner pass between Italy and Austria.