BPNL Lyon underground
By Peter Samuel
France's third city Lyon will soon benefit from the opening of a 10km northern leg of an inner area ring road (Boulevard Peripherique Nord de Lyon or BPNL), 6.5km of which is being built underground. The $900m project is financed by a toll concessionaire group led by the French international construction company Bouygues SA. The only substantial open air section of the BPNL is at the eastern end where it bridges the Rhone river and follows along a railroad and canal on the bank of the river for about 1km, providing two interchanges with city arterials. That initial section, about a third is 6-lanes. Then continuing westward the highway plunges into a pair of 3.2km long 2-lane bored tunnels that takes it deep under the northern part of the old city of Lyon and also the river Saone. The final western third of 6-lanes consists of three more bored twin-tunnel sections with short open-air cuttings for 3 more interchanges with local surface arterials.
The BPNL provides the first high standard east-west highway connection through the northern part of the city, and it will also relieve a major north-south bottleneck caused by narrow tunnels and bridge sections in the A6 to A7 route connection in the southern section of Lyon. This A6/A7 connection has been notorious for hours of creeping traffic as it is the most direct route between Paris and the Mediterranean. BPNL will link the end of the A6 to an already completed eastern ring road segment providing an expressway standard highway from the end of the A6 to the beginnings of the A42 going east to the Alps and Switzerland and to the A43 to Grenoble and Italy, as well as an alternate way to the Med coast-bound A7. ('A' stands for 'Autoroute' or expwy)
The BPNL was build largely underground to avoid tearing a swathe through the old city, as in the planned missing link in Paris' A86 outer beltway a 10.1km long cars-only 6-lane double-decker tunnel and a 7.4km 2-lane all-vehicles tunnel in the area of Versailles (see TR#5 Aug 96 p1). BPNL is being tolled at 3 of its 6 interchanges with 26 attended toll lanes, 24 automatic coin machines, and 21 electronic (e-) toll lanes. Prime for the tolling is GEA (Grenoble dElectronique et dAutomatismes SA) and Thomson is providing the e-toll equipment.
Studies are already under way of designs for the western segment which will complete the Lyon ring road. The western part about 15km long and likely to be also more than half underground will be developed as a toll concession starting construction about 2000. Lyon already has a major eastern toll bypass the A46 another 8km east of the ring road, and improvements to toll expressway standard are planned at a fourth north-south route A432 near the airport about 22km due east of the city center. A far western bypass making a 6th expwy standard route is way off. (Contacts: Charles Paradis BPNL 33 478 83 7001 Francois X Ott GEA 33 476 90 7272 firstname.lastname@example.org)