Saint Gotthard (sānt gŏtˈhərd, gŏtˈərd) [key], mountain group of the Lepontine Alps, S central Switzerland, rising to Pizzo Rotondo (10,472 ft/3,192 m high). The Reuss, Rhine, Ticino, and Rhône rivers rise there. It is crossed by the Saint Gotthard Pass, 6,935 ft (2,114 m) high. The pass, first extensively used in the 11th cent., has been important since then. It is crossed by the St. Gotthard Road (built 1820–30). The St. Gotthard Railway (built 1872–80), which links the northern and southern parts of Switzerland, passes through St. Gotthard Tunnel (9.3 mi/15 km long; maximum alt. 3,786 ft/1,154 m), one of the longer Alpine tunnels. A second, 35-mi (57-km) rail tunnel, the Gotthard Base Tunnel, is under construction; it is expected to open in 2016. The Saint Gotthard Road Tunnel was opened in 1980; 10.2 mi (16.4 km) long and with a capacity of 1,500 vehicles per hour, it has greatly improved road transportation between Switzerland and Italy.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Central European Physical Geography