ROME (AP) _ The City of Rome is abandoning plans for a tunnel to ease traffic around the Vatican because it could not be finished by 2000 _ when millions of pilgrims are expected in town.

Mayor Francesco Rutelli gave up the project after two years of research that cost $4 million.

``The opinion of the archeological superintendent Adriano La Regina is insurmountable,'' he said Tuesday. ``The Superior Council of Public Works, formally favorable, has added so many limitations that it would have been impossible to complete the tunnel by December 2000.''

The $76 million tunnel near Castel San'Angelo, the site of a huge bottleneck near the Vatican, would have been about a mile long.

Millions of religious pilgrims and other tourists are expected to visit Rome in connection with the year 2000, which the Roman Catholic Church is celebrating as the beginning of a new millennium.