ENDLESS rush hour traffic jams and diversions may soon be a thing of the past for motorists driving in the Marquês de Pombal area. After a year and a half of stopping and starting work on the controversial tunnel, which aims to ease traffic congestion in and out of the heart of Lisbon, three lanes have finally opened in Avenida Joaquim Augusto de Aguiar, between Artilharia Um and Rua Castilho, reports Chris Graeme.
The President of Lisbon Câmara, Pedro Santana Lopes, who was in the area to inspect the work on August 12, said that, by September, traffic would return to normal in the avenue.
Within three weeks, traffic running between there and the Marquês roundabout should be back to normal, with work immediately to start on the tunnel link at the exit of Avenida Fontes Pereira de Melo (by the Liberty Insurance building) – a 100 metre stretch that should take three weeks to complete.
According to the plans, motorists will be able to leave Marquês de Pombal and follow on to Avenida da Liberdade, or continue on in the tunnel and exit at Fontes Pereira de Melo, or further on in Avenida António de Aguiar, where the exit will be by the Order of Engineers’ building.
At the Marquês de Pombal roundabout, at the bottom of Parque Eduardo VII, it is already possible to see the two lanes leading into the tunnel, with the entire project expected to be complete by spring 2006.
“Within a few months, the traffic congestion will be over and buses will be able to move around the roundabout with greater ease and speed because they will have their own lanes,” the President guaranteed. Santana Lopes added that, despite the tunnel project being very complicated, it had moved forward at great speed and in complete safety, without having to reroute the traffic as was necessary to do when the João XXI tunnel was under construction.