Mayor says it is the “most complex project” in the Algarve this century
Faro Mayor Rogério Bacalhau has announced that the new bridge to Faro Island is due to be completed between next summer and the end of 2024.
The announcement came during a visit to the bridge’s construction site this Tuesday morning (October 31) as part of the “Faro Positivo” programme, organised by the council to showcase ongoing projects in the municipality.
The new deadline for completion of the bridge is shorter than the 18 months initially projected when the contract was awarded.
Speaking to journalists at the event, the mayor described the bridge as the “most complex project” carried out in the Algarve this century.
He said that adjustments to the project were necessary, including conducting new surveys, which helped save time. The next step will be the construction of the main deck, set to begin in November.
Bacalhau also revealed that a phase of the project that was originally planned for the end of the construction will be brought forward to avoid traffic congestion “in July and August.”
In fact, improving traffic flow from and to Faro Island (also know as Faro Beach) is one of the main goals behind the project.
“We have to understand that Faro Beach has limited space, and today, it only has one entrance, which is also an exit. When we have the two lanes, the exit lane will always be open, creating a greater sense of security and actual safety than what we have today. However, in the entrance lane, our idea is to have a traffic light that will be red for a minute or two so that people wait at the entrance to the beach and not within the beach,” he revealed.
“Those queues that we are used to seeing in the summer, stretching from the bridge to the airport… if we transfer all those cars to Faro Beach, probably no one would be able to move inside. This would create dangerous and conflicting situations,” the mayor said.
The traffic lights will delay the entrance flow for one or two minutes to prevent traffic jams at the entrance and give those entering time to find parking, the mayor believes.
“People will wait outside, and when they enter, they will have the mobility to move around Faro Beach,” he predicted. “There won’t be queues to exit. This means we always have an open corridor, even in case of an emergency.”
In terms of the set-up of the new bridge, “the right side will have a pedestrian and cycling zone and then two lanes for vehicles. On the other side, there will also be a pedestrian walkway but it will be smaller. The sides are not the same.”
Buses will now cross the bridge, drop off passengers at Faro Beach, and return. Regarding the main parking lot, changes are also planned.
“That whole area will be reorganised in some way. At the moment, we have 1,012 official parking spaces. We have never renovated Faro Beach because the old bridge could not support the transportation of heavy machinery for those kinds of works. As soon as the new bridge is completed, we want to undertake a more comprehensive endeavour with better organisation and monitoring of parking,” he said.
Meanwhile, a roundabout will be built in the central square, starting in January 2024.
While the bridge project has been one of the most highly-anticipated projects in Faro for years, Bacalhau refuses to classify it as the most emblematic of his final mandate as mayor.
“We’ve had many other projects, such as the Liceu forest, the Alameda garden, the dog shelter that we visited today, among many other things that were done. I would say this is the most complex project, not only in the Faro region but also in the Algarve that has been undertaken in this century. This takes into account the ecosystem in which we are intervening,” said the mayor.
All in all, the bridge project represents an investment of around €6.5 million.
“The team and machines we have here will finish driving the two remaining piles between this week and the next. These are specialised teams that travel around the world to do only this kind of work. The bridge will be built in segments. We hope that next year we will have better access conditions,” said the mayor, adding that “something very strange would have to happen for it not to be completed in 2024.”
Original article written by Maria Simiris for Barlavento newspaper.