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Sonnenberg Tunnel: Switzerland’s tunnel capable of withstanding a blast from a nuclear explosion

The Sonnenberg Tunnel is a 1,550-meter long motorway tunnel, constructed between 1971 and 1976 and located in Lucerne, Switzerland.

At its completion it was also the world’s largest civilian nuclear fallout shelter, designed to protect 20,000 civilians in the eventuality of war or disaster.

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The A2 motorway from Chiasso to Basel passes through the tunnel and carries around 55,000 vehicles a day.

There are tentative plans to construct a bypass to replace the section of the motorway that leads through Lucerne, which includes the Sonnenberg and Reussport tunnels.

Based on a federal law from 1963, Switzerland aims to provide nuclear fallout shelters for the entire population of the country.

The construction of a new tunnel near an urban centre was seen as an opportunity to provide shelter space for a large number of people at the same time.

The installations that allowed the tunnel to be converted into a fallout shelter cost around $32.5 million, of which approximately $5 million were borne by the municipality of Lucerne.

The shelter consisted of the two motorway tunnels (one per direction of travel), each capable of holding 10,000 people in 64 person subdivisions.

A seven story cavern between the tunnels contained shelter infrastructure including a command post, an emergency hospital, a radio studio, a telephone centre, prison cells and ventilation machines.

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The shelter was designed to withstand the blast from a 1 megaton nuclear explosion 1 kilometre away.

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