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Parliament backs plan to turn EN2 into Portugal’s Route 66

Portugal’s parliamentary groups have backed the project to promote the country’s longest road – the EN2 between Chaves and Faro – as a tourist attraction along the lines of America’s highway ‘Route 66’.

The project – officially unveiled in May during celebrations of the road’s 71st anniversary in Faro (click here) – was finally discussed in Parliament on Wednesday (October 12) following the presentation of two draft resolutions.

One was from PSD and CDS-PP and urged the “transformation of the road into a product of economic interest and touristic promotion”, while the other was presented by the PS and recommended that the road be “valued”.

Both were supported by all parliamentary groups, writes Lusa news agency.

The support is seen as a big step forward for the project, whose creators now believe they can look more seriously into the possibility of obtaining community funding.

The idea was first promoted by Portugal’s roads authority (IP) as well as several mayors of boroughs that the EN2 runs through.

Described as the world’s “third longest road”, the EN2 was once the main route taken by people travelling from one end of Portugal to the other.

As those behind the project stress, the 738-kilometre route crosses hills and rivers, plains and other stunning landscapes, giving it strong touristic potential.

“We want people who embark on the route to be received the same way in all boroughs they visit, and to have access to information on hotels, restaurants and the local products of all these territories,” said chief campaigner Luís Machado, mayor of Santa Maria de Penaguião.

The University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro (UTAD) is already working on an App that will include all this kind of information.

Machado believes the project will “create wealth in the boroughs involved” and could even keep people from leaving rural areas, as they start to flourish.

An association of municipalities that the road runs through is expected to be set up by the first week of November. By 2017, the plan is to have the route officially launched.

“And then we will gradually invest in it to make it safer and more ‘comfortable’ and more attractive to people who enjoy this kind of tourism,” Machado told Lusa.

michael.bruxo@algarveresident.com