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No wheelchair access for new beach boardwalk project

by INÊS LOPES [email protected]

A project to replace an old boardwalk across the dunes of Praia Grande Nascente, Silves council, does not include access for people with reduced mobility.

The work, which started in December last year and are due to be concluded at the end of this month, is being carried out by the Regional Hydrographic Administration of the Algarve (ARH) and represents an investment of €116,000, partly funded by the PO Algarve 21, an EU-aided financing programme for the region.

Despite this, the boardwalk for the eastern side of Praia Grande has not been designed to provide for wheelchair access, something Algarve Resident reader Chris Harvey, whose mother is a wheelchair user, says is “crazy” taking into consideration “the amount of money that is being spent with so little thought for those less able”.

Replacement of the old boardwalk represents an investment of €116,000.
Replacement of the old boardwalk represents an investment of €116,000.

The ARH says the inclusion of disabled access ramps in the project is not viable due to the type of beach that Praia Grande Nascente falls under in the Plano de Ordenamento da Orla Costeira Burgau-Vilamoura (POOC), the Burgau-Vilamoura Coastline Plan.

In a statement sent to the Algarve Resident, the ARH says Praia Grande Nascente is a beach of “restricted access due to the sensitivity of its natural systems” and as such, it lacks the necessary adaptive equipment that would be found in a beach facility managed under a concession contract.

Chris Harvey continued: “I use the beautiful beach at Praia Grande. They are putting in steps when a small design change or some original forethought could have allowed wheelchair users access to this beautiful spot.”

The boardwalk project at Praia Grande Nascente includes the replacement of the existing boards from deactivated rail lines for wood from production forests, a link to the Ecovia network and purpose-built observation points in areas of interest.

Intervention works will also include the maintenance of sand dunes in a bid to remove trails created by people, ensuring the preservation of the natural dune system.

Accessible Praia Grande Poente

However, plans for the boardwalk at the western side of Praia Grande (Poente) will include access for the disabled, said the ARH, as the beach facility is managed under a concession contract with Carlos Alberto beach bar, which has adaptive equipment for people with reduced mobility.

“Due to the sand dune formation here and the shorter distance to the beach, costs to build a boardwalk in this area will be less in comparison to Praia Grande Nascente.”

The ARH aims to make as many beaches accessible to all as possible, with adaptive equipment and accesses for people with limited mobility. However, it says it needs to ensure the economic viability of the investments.

“The Algarve currently has 40 accessible beaches, which have been carefully selected to rationalise existing resources,” it said.

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

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