THEY say that the best things come to those who wait. And it’s been one hell of a wait! But finally, Angeles Muñoz, Mayor of Marbella, has confirmed that the San Pedro underpass will be open before this year’s summer madness.
When preparatory work on the project started back in 2008, it was estimated that within 18 months the underpass would be open and traffic flowing freely under the town. Shops and offices located along the old route of the CN340 through San Pedro de Alcantára and into Guadalmina were assured that the unavoidable disruption to their businesses would be as shortlived as possible.
Right from day one, it failed to run to plan. The first day that traffic heading in a easterly direction was diverted off the main San Pedro road and on to the southern bypass, 11km tailbacks hit the headlines. The cause? The guys who were meant to be adjusting the timers on the traffic lights to ensure an even traffic flow got stuck in the bottleneck. Classic Spain!
Even before the diggers arrived, disagreements over the planned route of the underpass and associated link roads caused considerable delays. But work was well underway when heavy rains at the beginning of 2010 forced up to 150 workers to return home while work was suspended. Then to top it all came the seemingly never-ending financial problems. At one point, the workforce was reduced to just 11 men while project managers renegotiated with local and national governments to guarantee funding.
Finally it seems that San Pedro businesses are going to receive some recompense for all their suffering. Unfortunately it is too late for many and, admittedly, not the financial compensation they all need. The shells of closed down businesses and skeleton petrol stations tell their own story.
The local council believes they can restore some pride to the area by consulting local residents and businesses on plans for how to develop the area of ground above the tunnel. Admittedly, it will be an enormous improvement to this forgotten town when the anticipated parks and family areas are opened above ground. Whether it will bring life back to this crippled town remains to be seen. Journey times between towns and resorts either side of San Pedro will definitely improve hopefully widening the net for those relying on the tourist pounds and euros this summer season.
It has been reported that the tunnel will open before the end of June. We shall have to wait and see if those in charge of signals make it in time to ensure that all goes smoothly on the day. There’s sure to be some fun and games as people re-learn the different routes through the town.
One thing is for sure: the shops, restaurants, cafes, bars and other businesses there will need and deserve our support, so do what you can to support the revitalisation of San Pedro de Alcantára.