The location chosen for the bridge between Alcoutim and San Lucar del Guadiana (Spain) guarantees the necessary height for maritime navigation, the shortest distance between banks and the lowest environmental impact, the promoters said today.
These were the main “constraints” to be overcome in order to move forward with the construction of the new cross-border road crossing over the Guadiana river, which is budgeted at nine million euros and is financed by the Recovery and Resilience Plan (PRR), underlined the mayor of Alcoutim, Osvaldo Gonçalves, and the vice-president of the Coordination and Regional Development Commission (CCDR) of the Algarve, José Pacheco.
Osvaldo Gonçalves and José Pacheco presented today the milestones and goals of the project, on the occasion of a working visit by the Secretary of State for Regional Development, Isabel Ferreira, to Mértola and Alcoutim, and indicated that the new bridge is currently in the construction phase. “Analysis of draft proposals”.
“The constraints for the execution and location had several issues, one of them was to guarantee the passage of the vessels that already currently pass on the bridge [over the Guadiana river] of Castro Marim – Ayamonte. And, for that purpose, the upper part of the deck has to be located around 27 meters above the water level of the river”, said José Pacheco.
Other objectives of the chosen location, which is located north of the towns of Alcoutim and San Lúcar, include “making the most of the existing accessibility” to lessen environmental impacts and guarantee access to the bridge, as well as “ownership of the land in both sides” by the municipalities, said the vice-president of the CCDR.
These aspects were “limiting” and the “other locations that were studied had great impacts on the landscape, given the height needed for the boats to pass and the width of the river”, he noted, stressing that the location of the route, to the north of the two towns, is where the width is smaller.
José Pacheco also added that, after the current phase of analysis of the preliminary project proposals, the execution project will follow, which will be accompanied by the Environmental Assessment Study and, “if everything goes according to plan, it will be ready by the end of May ”.
José Pacheco estimated that the Environmental Impact Study will take “another month or month and a half to complete”, after which the Environmental Impact Declaration will be made and approval by Portugal and Spain, and it is expected that, “in September , later this year”, the promoters can launch the contract project.
"Then we would have about 18/19 months of work and we would thus fulfill the PRR project, satisfying an old desire and pretension of the municipalities of Alcoutim and San Lúcar de Guadiana", said José Pacheco, acknowledging that the deadlines are "tight" given the need to complete the works by the end of 2025 to benefit from PRR funds.
Osvaldo Gonçalves also underlined the importance of the work to connect two locations that “have longed for” this connection and considered that the goals achieved so far are due, above all, to cross-border cooperation work between the various entities involved, Spanish and Portuguese.
Secretary of State Isabel Ferreira highlighted that the bridge "is one of the five planned cross-border connections" between Portugal and Spain and considered that the structure "is very important for a territory like Alcoutim", marked by the desertification of the territory and the aging population.
The official also acknowledged that the project has “tight goals”, but stressed that “no concern is indicated” regarding its progress and the entities involved “are fully committed” to ensure that “this opportunity is not wasted”.
“And it will certainly not be wasted”, said Isabel Ferreira, stressing that it is a project to “enhance the interior” and important to “correct the greatest asymmetries” in terms of territory.