WHO WILL PAY FOR THE HUGE CONCRETE ROOF OVER THE FAST TRAIN RAILWAY TRACK IN ORIHUELA CITY?
The new Popular Party government in Orihuela, with the support of the ex CLR Ciudadanos party, has decided to pay a total of €3.5 million for a huge concrete roof over the new high speed rail (AVE) track in Orihuela city and for preparing it for a future, but as yet undecided, use. The main opposition Socialist party did not support the decision because it was insufficiently ambitious.
The new high speed train will not stop in Orihuela city. Originally, the company which is carrying out the works on this stretch of track between Alicante and Murcia did not intend covering this nearly 1 kilometre section which is deep in a cutting. But previous governments of all political colours have decided this should be done. Why?
Not because it is necessary for pedestrian to cross over – a foot bridge, or several, do not require nearly a kilometre of concrete base. Few people would in any case need to cross over the tracks at this point because on the other side is agricultural land and some industrial buildings. It would not, as it has been suggested, cut Orihuela in half since it is on the southern outskirts of the city and it would not prevent future expansion since Orihuela city is not expanding.
It will not be used as a new shopping mall because the economy of Orihuela city could not support such an investment. The existing, small commercial centre, Ociopia, is hardly a success. The main weekly market is reducing the number of stalls because of lack of demand by traders. And shops in the historic centre are currently organising a special promotion with the Town Hall in an endeavour to boost demand. Compare and contrast with the tremendous success of La Zenia Boulevard in Orihuela Costa with millions of visitors every year!
The giant concrete overpass which will cost €1 million is nearly completed. €2.5 million is provided for its development but, in the years which have elapsed since the beginning of the fast train works, there has been no specific proposal for its use. In a public consultation launched by the new government there were only 59 respondents and no consensus on what should be done with this huge space.
€3.5 million is a lot of money for Orihuela and is likely to consume much of the investment funds available for several years. It is irresponsible to commit such an amount without a clear justification of the needs and use to which it will be put. The truth is that it is only possible for the government to go ahead with such an extravagant and unnecessary project because Orihuela Costa will pay for it! After all, with a population greater than that of the city and the proceeds which the Town Hall receives from each new property transaction, we contribute some 60% of the income of Orihuela and depriving Orihuela Costa of a fair share of expenditure ensures that Orihuela can indulge in such excesses.
The only funds which might be available in the Town Hall coffers to pay this €3.5 millions are the €4.6 million proceeds of land sold in Orihuela Costa some years ago to developers to build more houses. 40% was promised for investment in Orihuela Costa. If this money is available, which is doubtful since it was not used by the previous government, little would be left for Orihuela Costa after deducting at least €3.5 millions. If the amount is not paid in the next 3 years, as compensation, the Town Hall will be obliged to provide 5,000 square metres of land to the company building the high speed rail track which it could sell or use for urban development. The land in question has not been identified and there is a possibility that in the end, this could be land in Orihuela Costa which is currently experiencing a mini house building boom. But there is little municipally owned land left in Orihuela Costa which has a deficit in social, sporting and cultural facilities which increases as Orihuela Costa continues to expand.
If the passage of the new fast train does not cut Orihuela city in half as alleged, it is a FACT that ORIHUELA COSTA IS ALREADY CUT IN HALF by the widened N332 road between the coast and areas where most residents live. We have too few footbridges and underpasses over the N332 and the AP-7 motorway. People risk their lives crossing the N332 to go to the beach. In the case of residents of Lomas de Cabo Roig, they have no pedestrian crossing over the motorway and risk their lives to go to the health centre in Campoamor or to Cabo Roig. There is also a serious problem of congestion in the summer months on the N332 caused by the traffic going to La Zenia Boulevard. This is already proving dangerous to pedestrians and ruinous to local enterprises in the area of La Zenia roundabout. It will only get worse when the long delayed Emergency Services Centre located in the same area is finally completed and we get a 24 hours local police station. An overpass on the N332 at this point would be a solution.
It is obvious that the governments in Orihuela do not give a fig for the needs of Orihuela Costa. Out of sight, out of mind. When will they wake up to the fact that the future of Orihuela depends on Orihuela Costa? Instead of spending millions on an extravagant and unnecessary project in Orihuela city, investments should be made where needs exist and the economic future of the municipality lie, IN ORIHUELA COSTA.