Underground car park to open in Portimão

AN UNDERGROUND car park situated in Largo 1º de Maio in front of Portimão Câmara will be opened to the public on October 3, five years after work on the project first began.

After the underground structure ‘moved’ by five centimetres in the middle of August, at the last minute it was necessary to apply 242 anchors below to hold it firm. Despite this serious problem, SPEL, the company that will operate the park, has guaranteed that it will be ready to open on October 3.

The emergency work consists of 242 anchors being placed underneath the base, through holes dug until firm soil is reached. Technically, according to the firm responsible, each anchor is composed of six steel cables, which reach a depth of between 14 and 20 metres, capable of bearing a weight of 52 tons. So far, 230 anchors have been put in position, with only a further 10 remaining, which will be placed over the coming few days.

For this security measure to be applied, holes had to be drilled, which brought water to the surface and to the base of the structure. To resolve the problem, a special type of cement has been used to isolate and contain the water that will continue to circulate beneath the structure – a measure which the managing director of SPEL, António Mendes, says will guarantee total safety. Apparently, Contacto, the construction company responsible for the car park, developed a similar method to that already used for several buildings in the Expo area of Lisbon which are located at the edge of the Rio Tejo. “The anchorage was a solution we had already thought about, but it was only to be applied in the case of extreme necessity,” explained António Mendes.

The unforeseen problem was caused by the pressure of underground water, which moved the structure and caused damage to some of the pillars – a situation that meant work had to be suspended for some days.

Ready in time for elections!

Curiously, the new car park will be opened six days before the local council elections. The project was always a battleground for Portimão Câmara, which insisted in going ahead with the underground car park in the old marshland area, where various water channels flow.

Due to the various problems experienced over the five years, construction ceased for some time, but the council decided to continue with the project. The car park’s inauguration represents a hard fought victory and no one realised the level of complications that would be experienced during its contruction.