By: CHRIS GRAEME
A NEW study by the Confederation of Portuguese Industry suggests that placing Lisbon’s new international airport at Alcochete would save three billion euros.
Not only that, the Confederação da Indústria Portuguesa (CIP) claims that building the new airport at the shooting range at Alcochete (Campo de Tiro) would be easier and better in terms of access to the new high speed rail link or TGV.
Construction costs for the airport at Alcochete would save one billion euros, costing two billion euros instead of the three billion euros forecast if it were to be positioned at Ota, which has serious drainage problems.
The airport would also take less time to build, shaving at least two years off the projected completion date for Ota, which is in 2018.
The CIP commissioned study contains several radical proposals and alterations to the project, designs and attendant infrastructures.
According to the study presented on Wednesday (October 31), the savings at Alcochete would be because placing the airport at Ota near Alenquer would necessitate the removal of thousands of tonnes of earth and water and the driving of countless concrete piles into the waterlogged earth at a cost of 750 million euros.
Another problem faced by advocates of the Ota site is the number of compensation payments that would have to be paid out to local farmers, landowners and property owners from forced expropriations, which would not be an issue at Alcochete.
Ota would also mean having to reroute gas and water pipes and electric pylons, which would cost several million euros.
Added to these costs are a further 800 million euros that it would cost for the rail and road infrastructure implied for Ota bringing in links to Lisbon via Chelas and Barreiro rather than the cheaper alternative across or under the River Tejo (Montijo-Beato and Algés-Trafaria).
It is also estimated that the cost of bringing the TGV high speed rail link via Ota would also considerably ratchet up the price of transport infrastructure, whereas bringing the line along the left bank of the Tejo leaving Santarém would mean laying a rail track on less populated and more level landscape, thus avoiding millions in additional engineering expenses.
In all, the report says that the total cost of the new airport at Ota would run at nine billion euros whereas the alternative at Alcochete would cost six billion euros.
Also, José Manuel Viegas, who coordinated and presented the report, believes Ota is unlikely to be ready by 2017 – the date scheduled for the closure of Lisbon’s existing Portela International Airport.
Instead the coordinator believes the Ota site would be ready at the earliest in 2019 whereas it would be easily feasible to have the airport up and running by 2017 at the Alcochete site. “It is also important that the chosen site will allow for future expansion and development,” José Manuel Viegas concluded.
For the CIP, Alcochete is cheaper, more flexible, has better conditions for infrastructure links (rail, metro and road), will have fewer environmental consequences, and above all, will maximise the competitive potential of the country as a whole.
The Minister of Public Works, Transport and Communication, Mário Lino, has already received the report on the site for the new airport and has sent it on to the LNEC (National Civil Engineering Laboratory) for further study. LNEC is to carry out a comparative study into the two sites and then report back to the government by December 12.
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