Junta announces new 350 million motorway to the coast – 1600 metres of tunnels, a huge span bridge and entirely on virgin land – a highway to hell, according to ecologists
THE Junta has come under attack after announcing it is to build a 350 million euro toll motorway from Ronda to the coast.
Ecologist groups, trade unions and locals living in the Valle del Genal insist the “highway to hell” will destroy thousands of hectares of virgin land.
They insist that the new 32 kilometre dual carriageway – which it is claimed will cut journey time from the coast from 45 minutes to 22 minutes – is entirely unsustainable and flies in the face of the Junta’s policy towards climate change.
“It is entirely unsustainable and a complete waste of money,” said Azzam Qasrawi, a spokesman for the new Platforma Ciudadana, set up to fight it.
“They should concentrate on improving the existing road and increase public transport.
“We believe that any new road from the coast would bring ecological disaster to the area.”
Both the IU and Green parties believe that with one bridge and a third lane in various stretches, journey times could easily be cut down to 30 minutes.
“And this could be done for a fraction of the money,” added Qasrawi, whose group is commissioning an independent study.
The Platform has been set up from groups from around the province, as well as academics from Malaga and Granada university.
The road, which would see users paying a toll of at least a euro, will cut through the Valle del Genal, an area recently declared an LIC (Lugar de Interes Comunitario), or area of Community Interest, by the EU.
Declared to be of European significance due to its richness of flora and fauna, it is also particularly valued for its landscape.
The via rapida, though, will carve its way across the valley, just two kilometres above the villages of Parauta and Igualeja.
Incredibly, the Junta will now be looking to the EU to help with funding for the motorway, as well as to local town halls and private investment.
With a 1.6km tunnel and a suspension bridge (pictured on the front cover), the Junta estimates it will take up to 18 months to build.
Expected to be ready by 2012, the Junta insists it will revitalise the Serrania de Ronda and serve 230,000 people.
At the same time the Junta estimates that only eight per cent of its users will be tourists.
“The existing road is to become a specially designated tourist route,” public works boss Concepcion Gutierrez told a press conference at Ronda’s Parador last week.
“This plan will completely revitalise Ronda and the towns of the Valle de Genal.”
When questioned by the Olive Press about the viability of improving the existing road, she said: “The geology of the area is too complicated and dangerous for landslides.
“In any case it is an ancient road built in 1931 that only follows the contours. The new road will have less impact on the environment.”
But not everyone is in agreement. Di Beach, owner of Los Castanos hotel, in Cartajima, told the Olive Press: “This will spell major destruction for the area. It is just about money and another example of how costafication is slowly creeping inland.
“The quiet rural lifestyle of these villages, their sustainable cottage industries, will be lost. While most of the villagers are for it, as they think it will bring everyone lots of money, they don’t understand what it will bring. They just don’t appreciate the beautiful area they have up here.”