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Controversial road plan continues to next stage

By DAISY SAMPSON [email protected]

A new bypass planned as part of the redevelopment of the EN125-4 between Loulé and Faro has taken a step further forward to being approved after the public consultation period closed at the end of January, despite a study claiming that it would have a “negative effect” on home owners in the area.

A declaration made by Loulé Câmara on February 8 states: “The preliminary study into the EN125-4 bypass has been approved and there will now be an Environmental Impact Evaluation based on the environmental impact study.”

The environmental impact study of the project, commissioned by Loulé Câmara and ENGIVIA, the company responsible for the drawing up of the project, was conducted by ARQPAIS with results published in October 2010.

The study was undertaken to analyse the environmental implications of the proposed plans and to indicate the primary “minimisation measures” in regard to several factors including water resources, air quality, ambient noise, cultural heritage and occupation.

Plans to redevelop the road are based on Loulé Câmara finding that the EN 125-4 is one of the two main entry roads into the city.

Also, by redeveloping the EN125-4, the council says it will also improve the access to the Parque das Cidades, the site of the Algarve Stadium, the yet to be built Hospital Central do Algarve and the upcoming IKEA store.

While the redevelopment of the road is mainly confined to widening the existing road, plans show that when the road reaches the area of Alfarrobeira, a new section will be built over 3.3 kilometres through an area described by Loulé Câmara as having “dispersed occupied buildings”.

The reason for the bypass around Alfarrobeira, according to Loulé Câmara, is because there is not a sufficient amount of space to widen the road as the houses and verges are too close to the existing road.

The statement from Loulé Câmara continues: “To resolve this problem, it has become necessary to build a bypass west of Alfarrobeira since the terrain to the east is not conducive to having the road built there.”

Because the building of an entirely new road has raised concerns as to the impacts that it will have not only on the environment but also on the local population, three different proposals have been put forward for consideration.

The first, the option which is favoured by the environmental impact study, is one which sees a dual carriageway being built to the west of Alfarrobeira, leaving the existing road through the village for access, and includes five roundabouts within the total EN125-4 variant between Circular de Loulé and Valados.

The second option, referred to as “Alternative A”, suggests that a single carriageway bypass should be built west of the village, while the third “Alternative B” opts again for a single carriageway to be built but for the existing road to also be used in the new redevelopment as traffic travels along the new road in one direction and along the old road in the opposite direction.

Findings in the environmental impact study show that the area to be used for the new bypass in either of the plans is “currently mainly dominated by areas of orchards interspersed with olive groves” while in relation to the proximity of the proposed bypass to homes the study states: “Urban areas are mostly clustered around the current EN125-4 with some small, isolated plots and dwellings in the area.”

It continues: “The areas mainly affected by the proposals are the traditional orchards of the area.”

The study notes that the newly developed EN125-4 will have both benefits and drawbacks listing the pros for the works as being the improved movement between Loulé and Faro and an easier connection to both the A22 and areas of economic importance such as the Algarve Stadium.

Negative impacts would occur with any of the plans, according to the study, which states that higher noise levels and changes in accessibility would be particularly bad during the construction phase, while it also states: “In the case of Alfarrobeira, the construction of the bypass in an area of housing west of the current route will bring some significant negative impacts including increased levels of noise and changes in accessibility that comes with living in an area occupied by a bypass.”

The total estimated cost of the redevelopment of the EN125-4 is around €4.5 million.

However, the study, which will now be assessed by Loulé Câmara, concludes that the benefits in the “broader sense” outweigh the negative impacts.

A spokesman for Loulé Câmara told the Algarve Resident: “Up until now, only one study has been done on the road, an Environmental Impact Study which is ongoing.  Only after the outcome of the assessment will we be able to take the next step in the redevelopment of the road.”

To access the Portuguese only study, which includes detailed sketches of the alternatives proposed, please follow the link:  

Do you have a view on this story? Please email Editor Inês Lopes at [email protected]