The project of remodeling of the Benalmádena Costa -protected in the Strategy Sustainable and Integrated Urban Development (Edusi) for the municipality that will be financed with European funds- sadly still in the eye of the hurricane. All -Municipal government, opposition, local economic and business sectors and citizen platform not to the single lane- they agree that the Benalmadena coast needs an investment to adapt to the new times, with the image and modernity that this area of Benalmádena deserves, which despite being an economic pillar and a tourist attraction, has been the poor sister in relation to the economic injections that the other two population centers of the municipality have been enjoying.
Although everyone agrees that the coast needs a change and that the Edusi is an opportunity to make it a reality, each sector involved subjects its support to the project proposed by the municipal government to the inclusion of different proposals, and to the fact that some of them are developed in advance of, for example, a possible reorganization of road traffic in the area.
This was made clear again this Friday in a meeting held at the City Hall with the hotel, commercial and business sector of Benalmádena, during which time, as confirmed by this medium, it was requested that for future discussion tables or meetings “the opposition groups also be present with the aim that the agreements to those who arrive in the same are mandatory, regardless of who governs”.
On Friday, the mayor, Víctor Navas, together with the Councilor for Urban Planning, María Isabel Ruiz; the Councilor for Mobility, Javier Marín, and municipal technicians from various delegations responsible for the projects, met with representatives of the Association of Merchants and Entrepreneurs of Benalmádena (ACEB), Association of Hospitality Entrepreneurs of the Costa del Sol (AEHCOS) and the Association of Businessmen and Tourist Services of Benalmádena Costa (AESTB) to present “in detail, the ambitious improvement and transformation project for Benalmádena Costa promoted by the municipal government”.
Navashas detailed in a press release that, during the meeting, they have been shown “in detail the latest advances in mobility, as well as the way in which the project will be developed in the coming months”. However, as this medium has contrasted with the representatives gathered there, in this regard the most relevant information focused on the free bus 103 for registered residents, so demand, among other measures, “the need for more alternatives that offer fluidity to road traffic” for the project to have real viability.
In this same press release, the mayor points out that “we have taken into account the results of the pilot test that we started in May 2021, and we have taken the opportunity to exchange ideas and reflections to move forward and continue building together that city model that Benalmádena Costa needs, and that will mean the largest economic investment in recent decades in this area of the municipality” and that, “our project has received unanimous support from AEHCOS, ACEB and AESTB, an initiative that will serve to modify mobility, revitalize spaces, and renaturalise the environment with new green areas, thus settling a pending account with Benalmádena Costa, which had not received an investment of these characteristics for decades”.
It would be interesting clarify that this “unanimous” support to which the first mayor refers, after contacting this medium with a large part of those attending the meeting, seems to be only concerning the need that the Benalmadena Coast has to invest in its remodeling-al as the opposition manifests -, but in the details of how to do it, each one has their own proposals according to the needs expressed by the associates of the sectors they represent.
In this way, with regard to the reorganization of traffic, the local government was committedto maintaining four traffic lanes on the road as follows: in the Benalmádena-Fuengirola direction, one for normal traffic, and another reserved for buses and taxis . And in theTorremolinos direction, one for normal traffic, and another lane for new mobility: bicycle and non-polluting vehicles. As well as the elimination of the median of palm trees.
Precisely this single lane for road traffic in the Torremolinos direction is the one that has been creating controversy due to the continuous traffic jams it has caused, especially in summer, and which led to the creation of a neighborhood platform with more than 4,000 members as a sign of rejection of the caravans triggered by what was called “pilot test”.
In reference to this reduction of lanes, as reflected in the note sent by the City Council, “the government team has agreed with businessmen and hoteliers to modify the location of the bus lane, which in this way it will move to the south lane towards Torremolinos, considering all the agents involved, which is the best option”.
Which it is not clear, even after consulting with the agents gathered there, whether the “modification” referred to would mean that said lane is removed from the Fuengirola direction to move to Torremolinosor that holds in both directions. Nor where would it be then locatedon new lane planned for non-polluting bicycles and vehicles. And obviously, we cannot offer you any type of information on whether it will be enabled as a pilot test to verify its viability, as it has been done since this summer when it was opted for its non-inclusion in that sense of circulation.
The challenge of smoothing traffic
After the collapses suffered in Antonio Machado, the alternatives to give real fluidity to road traffic is something that many await like rain in May.
As this medium has been able to verify, the economic representatives present at this meeting seem to agree on the need prior to a reduction of lanes or change of functionality of the same, or whatever it is that can be proposed to do, to put into practice alternative measures that allow users to change their habits and have other ways to decongest this avenue with vehicles.
Each association has its allegations to the coastal remodeling project. For example, the Association of Entrepreneurs and Tourist Services of Benalmádena Costa understands that the project must include, in addition to the change of direction of the bus-taxi lane, the need to smooth traffic, expansion of the number of car parksby creating new parking pockets, new urban transport lines that run through the entire hotel plant as well as the parking pockets that are created outside the Avenue and the expansion of loading and unloading areas in the vicinity of hotels and businesses on the Coast, currently almost non-existent. In addition, they also propose theexpansion of Urban Solid Waste collection areas as well as improvement in the management and collection of garbage.
For its part, the ACEBalso makes nuances to that “resounding support” to which the mayor alludes in his press release. In this sense, its president has stated to this medium “that already in September we presented a battery of allegations in response to the complaints received by our associates and today we do not move a comma from what we saidat the time regarding the project”.
In the opinion of this Benalmádena association, “you cannot start the house from the roofand you have to provide effective alternatives to road traffic and also offer them to drivers so that they can travel by public or non-polluting transport”.
Thus, already in September the president of the business group considered that it is “absolutely necessary to remodel and update one of the main transit routes for both residents and visitors, and that this change must be carried out hand in hand with sustainable mobility, in accordance with with a modern and environmentally friendly municipality”, but at the same time he valued that “this so-called the pilot test has been carried out in an erroneous way, in such an inappropriate time as the summer months, and the forecasts and mobility solutions have either not been correct, or have been non-existent”.
With our sights set on the next summer season and with the recent approvalby the Plenary for the removal of the median of palm trees, from ACEB they fear that history will repeat itself or even worsen the collapse of traffic on Antonio Machado avenue, which is why they understand the need for the City Council to work on these alternatives that provide functionality to road traffic in the area and obviously plan its execution sufficiently in advance of the start of the planned works.
Specifically, regarding the contributionsmade by this association on the Antonio Machado avenue remodeling project, highlight the Enabling one lane (in each direction) for vehicles and another express lane (in each direction)for public transport vehicles, taxis, emergency vehicles, electric vehicles and scooters or the like. This, in his opinion, must go hand in hand with “an efficient and ecological circular transport service that connects the three nuclei of the municipality in an efficient and environmentally friendly way. This service must include an information system at stops, with information panels”.
In addition, the ACEB requested the expansion of the sidewalks to encourage their use by pedestrians, as well as to enable benches, rows of trees and, in short, to make walking in the area attractive and safe. And understand, this change should also include parking bags for different types of vehicles.
Finally, from the ACEB it was proposed to contact companies that provide electric, ecological transport vehicles, to be able to offer them to visitors and to the neighbors who pass through the area.
The mayor also had a meeting a few weeks ago with the citizen platform No to the single lane. The meeting took place, as reported from the citizen platform, in “a cordial tone, although the reality is that for us it was not fruitful insofar as they made it clear to us that they intend to go ahead both with the elimination of the median of palm trees on Antonio Machado avenue, as well as with the lane reduction”.
The municipal representatives, as they commented from the neighborhood platform, “explained to us through slides what they intend to do, but they told us nothing about the report that they themselves prepared and which is inconclusive, nor did they answer us about the alternatives they have planned regarding traffic in Benalmádena, such as the possibility of enable alternative roads to decongest traffic jams in the area, nor about the possibility of undertaking improvements in the operation of public transport to make it feasible to reduce one lane on the Coast.
Commitments achieved, according to the Government
In the note sent, the local government announces that in addition to the modification of the location of the bus lane, “among the commitments agreed at today’s meeting -in reference to the 14th- is found the holding sectoral roundtables starting in February, in which we will refine the project together, readjusting the actions so that they are to the liking of all the social agents involved in the transformation”. Tables in which the attendees requested that the opposition also be present.
“Another of the commitments requested by merchants and hoteliers has been the reinforcement of public transport, an aspect in which we are already making progress by offering its free use to registered citizens, although we will continue working so that it reaches more places”, pointed out the mayor, who also added that “we are already working on creating of new parking bags”.
The mayor concluded by pointing out that “it makes no sense that, while a large part of the citizens, groups, social agents and businessmen are in favor of a project that is going to transform and improve Benalmádena Costa; some parties persist in branding it as detrimental to the city, and urge us to return the 10 million euros of funds that the EU has granted us for its development”.
Regarding these statements, none of the groups consulted by this means show their rejection of the remodeling of the Coast with Edusi funds, but they do disagree on the reorganization of traffic proposed by the local government or the elimination of the median of palm trees.
It should be remembered that the DUSI Strategy will also be the one that subsidizes the improvements that will be carried out in the El Gamonal area and that sustainable urban developmentrefers to the lasting andlong-term improvement of social, economic and environmental conditions from an urban area.