Works until the summer on the EN125 are "to fill holes", background intervention only in 2019

The Government announced today "emergency" works on the section of the EN125 between Olhão and Vila Real de Santo António, as well as […]

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The Government announced today "emergency" works on the section of the EN125 between Olhão and Vila Real de Santo António, as well as on the EN124 and EN396, starting as early as May and ending before summer, but these works will only serve “to fill holes”. This is the opinion of Francisco Amaral and Conceição Cabrita, presidents of the Chambers of Castro Marim and VRSA, respectively, who argue that an intervention of this nature “should have already advanced a long time ago”, regardless of the difficulties in obtaining the necessary approval from the Court of Auditors.

Secretary of State for Infrastructure Guilherme d'Oliveira Martins was this Monday in Faro to assure the mayors of the Algarve that the EN125 and other national roads in the region are not forgotten and that the Government is preparing to launch tenders worth one million euros to resolve the most urgent situations.

«We are going to start emergency works on the EN125, between Olhão and Vila Real de Santo António. This intervention is triggered under the terms of the contract we have with the sub-concessionaire [Rotas do Algarve Litoral], taking into account that we are still awaiting the approval of the Court of Auditors», said the government official, after presenting the work plan at a meeting at the door closed with the mayors of the Algarve, at AMAL – Algarve Intermunicipal Community.

Guilherme d'Oliveira Martins recalled that «in the last winter, with the rains, the EN125 was greatly degraded». This led the Government to trigger a clause in the contract with the sub-concessionaire – in practice, this section is still part of the concession – which stipulates “the obligation to initiate emergency works”.

«We notified Rotas do Algarve Litoral, the sub-concessionaire said that it did not have the means to do so and we immediately said that we would move forward. We will carry out emergency works, starting in May and ending before the summer of 2018, and in 2019 we will start structural works on this section – which will supposedly be our responsibility -, which are budgeted at 18 million euros”, he guaranteed Guilherme d'Oliveira Martins.

According to IP, these works will cost one million euros and advance at the end of May, thanks to the Urgent Public Tenders that will be published tomorrow.

So, is it a question of plugging holes, for now? “IP has a monitoring system that works efficiently. It establishes the degree of degradation of a road and, depending on the state, the interventions will be more or less deep», illustrates the Secretary of State for Infrastructure.

On the part of mayors, opinions are divided. If, on the one hand, socialist Jorge Botelho, mayor of Tavira, says he was pleased with what he heard from the government official – also from the PS –, social democrats Francisco Amaral and Conceição Cabrita were not happy. Rosa Palma (PCP), who received the news that works were going to advance to, in her words, «fill holes in the EN124», says she waits to see if the works really advance «on 15th of May».

"I am convinced that a light intervention like the one that is going to be done now, of filling holes and painting the road, could have been done a long time ago," said the mayor of Castro Marim on the sidelines of the meeting.

Francisco Amaral even admits that "there may be some complexity" in the process of renegotiating the concession and obtaining the visa, but he affirms "the displeasure at having taken all this time to postpone it and with some excuses in the mix". Even because the intended intervention will be “very light”.

To carry out the works between Cacela and VRSA, «85% of 350 thousand euros are left over», since, of the million announced, «500 thousand euros are destined for the bridge over Almargem and 150 for the intervention on the EN124, between Silves and Porto de Lagos ».

Jorge Botelho, on the other hand, considers the progress of the works, even if they are emergency ones, «largely positive». “After the rains, it was found to be very degraded and, fortunately, Mr. Secretary of State came here with specific dates for emergency situations. For now, we have a start and end date for the emergency works, which I think is largely positive within the difficulties of this process and that we have been feeling», said the mayor of Tavir.

«This meeting took place because a few months ago, due to the degradation, AMAL and I pointed out the problems on the EN125, with the guardianship, conveying that it was important to deal with emergency situations, as this was not compatible with the issue of slowness and with the problem of the Court of Auditors”, he explained.

Thus, «tomorrow the invitations to companies will be published, in order to carry out three interventions: one between Cacela and Vila Real de Santo António, another in Tavira, at Ponte do Almargem, and also in the area of ​​Olhão, so that we can start to resolve, promptly , what is the total degradation of the floor».

Jorge Botelho does not hide, even so, that he will be “happy in 2019”, when he sees the basic works going forward.