It is something drivers, businesses and associations have demanded for several months, but only now has been confirmed. The seemingly never-ending roadworks on the Algarve’s EN125 will be put on hold between July 1 and August 31 in a bid to ease traffic flow during the busy summer season, expected to be one of the best – if not the best ever – for the region’s tourism sector.
The announcement was made by Portugal’s Secretary of State for Infrastructures last week during the opening of a new roundabout linking Faro’s north EN125 bypass to the EN2 road.
“We are going to finalise all the ongoing roadworks on the EN125 to guarantee that on July 1 everything is cleared up,” Guilherme d’Oliveira Martins said, cited by regional online newspaper Sulinformação.
“We’re committed to having everything sorted so that tourists and visitors can enjoy stability and tranquillity while driving on the EN125,” he added.
For the rest of June, workers from hired concession Algarve Litoral will be busy putting up new traffic signs and painting new markings on the road, while also completing any other unfinished work.
The renovations will resume again “sometime after the summer”. But when they will finally be completed is still anyone’s guess.
The secretary of state says the government is paying “special attention” to the often-dubbed ‘road of death’ (notorious for its terrible accidents), though this may mean little to thousands who have been negotiating chaos for the last nine months.
In fact, 2016 is turning out to be even worse for traffic accidents in the Algarve than 2015.
Road safety authority ANSR reports that for the first five months this year there has been a 10.4% increase on figures for the same period last year – the latest accident involving the death of a horse that galloped into traffic on the EN125 (click here).
The only saving grace is that fewer people have died (nine as opposed to 13), and the number of serious injuries is also down (56 as opposed to 63).
Suspend the EN125 roadworks now, say hoteliers
A day after the government’s announcement, Algarve hoteliers’ association (AHETA) launched another hard-hitting statement urging the men and women in charge in Lisbon to “suspend the roadworks immediately”. The association added that the works “do not even have the approval of the Court of Auditors”.
According to the hoteliers, the government has made “a number of serious mistakes” regarding the road, which have created “a wave of discontent, protests and indignation” among locals and holidaymakers alike.
Tavira mayor Jorge Botelho – also president of the Algarve municipalities association (AMAL) – agreed that it would be “ideal to suspend the roadworks now”, but warned that “contracts have been signed” and breaching them would likely be punished with fines.
Road safety plan and speed cameras in the pipeline
Though the State believes that a renovated EN125 will be a big step towards reducing the growing number of accidents in the Algarve, it is aware that roadworks alone are not enough.
Thus a region-wide road safety plan is going to be developed, in a bid to reduce the growing number of accidents and fatalities on local roads. The project was announced on Monday (June 6) following the signing of a cooperation protocol by the Algarve municipalities’ association AMAL and road safety authority ANSR.
One of the main measures will be to introduce three speed cameras on the EN125.
“The EN125 is the most dangerous road we have (in Portugal),” said Jorge Gomes, Secretary of State for Internal Administration.
“What we want with these speed cameras is to make sure people drive slower. If they drive slower every five or 10 kilometres, then we will be achieving our goal,” he added.
Whether there will be any warning about where the cameras will be placed was not revealed. All that was revealed is that they will be set up before April 2017.
By MICHAEL BRUXO [email protected]