In a couple of days 2017 will come to an end, and it seems a good time to look at the main infrastructure projects which were promised for this year by the different administrations in Malaga province, and see how they are doing. Admittedly, there weren't many of them because the government and the Junta de Andalucía are still reluctant to spend money and, in the case of councils, a lack of resources combined with minority governments or coalitions with multiple parties have delayed the approvals of budgets so very few projects have been carried out.
As a result, the major investments which are under way can be counted on the fingers of one hand: the motorway exit at Arroyo de la Miel to end one of the worst black spots for traffic jams in the area (government), advancing the Malaga metro towards the city centre, and two secondary schools (Junta) and, from councils, the new local hospital in Estepona and several social housing developments in Malaga city. The remainder are still caught up in bureaucratic processes and preliminary studies.
Although important steps have been taken in offices with regard to new infrastructures such as the northern access to the airport, the stretch of railway which will reduce the AVE journey time between Malaga and Seville, the sewage plant for the Malaga city area and projects such as pedestrianising the Alameda in Malaga city and the centre of Torremolinos, there are numerous central government, regional and local projects which have still not begun.
Among the most important are the extension of the suburban railway line to Marbella, which is the only large town in Spain with no rail connection; the progression of the Malaga metro to the Civil Hospital; the road between the 'hiperronda' bypass, Alhaurín de la Torre and the industrial estates in the Guadalhorce area; the theatre in Torre del Mar; pedestrianising the centre of Vélez-Malaga; the modernisation of the railway line between Algeciras and Bobadilla so that cargo can be transported from Algeciras port; and a major logistical centre at Puerto Seco in Antequera.
The coastal railway is being studied and the bypass put to tender
For projects financed by the government, 138 million euros were allocated to Malaga in the general state budgets for 2017. This was lowest amount so far this century and a long way from the 1.2 billion for investment in 2008, which was used for major works such as the second runway at the airport, the 'hiperronda' bypass and the main road through San Pedro.
This year, there has been some progress towards the construction of the northern access to the airport from the second bypass, at a cost of 6.5 million euros. The project has been put to tender and work should begin in the first quarter of 2018. The second major project was the new prison in Archidona (21.4 million euros), which has been completed but has not yet opened and is being used provisionally as a detention centre for migrants.
Initial work has also begun on the new link road between the A-7 and Arroyo de la Miel, one of the busiest points on the roads in Malaga province, which will cost 11.2 million euros. However, the majority of the most urgent projects which are to be carried out by the government are still in the study phase or, in the best of cases, the plans have yet to be drawn up. This applies to the rail connection at Almodóvar del Río (Cordoba) which will reduce the journey time between Malaga and Seville on the AVE to an hour and a half. It will cost around 32 million euros and, if all goes according to schedule, could be ready by 2020.
Theministry of Public Works was also due to pay 350,000 euros for the project to extend the railway from Malaga to Marbella and Estepona. However, at the moment it is still not clear whether this will be done by extending the existing Malaga-Fuengirola line, despite the fact that the service is already running at full capacity, or whether, as numerous politicians, citizens and businesses are demanding, a new line will be built which can support more people.
Some work was carried out on the stretch of railway between Algeciras and Bobadilla in the summer, on two areas in Cadiz province where the works had stopped in 2013 and 2015. On the Malaga side, which is where the most controversial and longest-delayed stretch of track is located (Ronda-Antequera), the minister of Public Works, Íñigo de la Serna, raised hopes recently when he promised that the whole network will be completed in 2021.
Still on the subject of railways, Malaga port has passed another year with no sign of its underground track, and work came to a halt on the new oceanographic centre, which was due to open next year, because of problems with the foundations. It should now open in 2019.
Construction has also been suspended on the sewage plant at Nerja; although this is a government project, the company which won the contract is suffering financial difficulties.
Junta de Andalucía
Slow progress on the metro but advances in sewage and schools
While Nerja is the only coastal town which does not treat its sewage, in the Guadalhorce valley the river of the same name continues to act as a drain for the waste produced by 100,000 inhabitants of the area. However, in the middle of this year, after the project was blocked by the Junta de Andalucía for over a decade, work finally began on the Bajo Guadalhorce treatment plant which will serve Álora, Pizarra and Coín. At the same time, the Junta and the councils signed an agreement for the plant for the metropolitan area, which will handle the sewage produced from Alhaurín el Grande and Cártama. This will ease the pressure on the one in Malaga city, which is now at its limit because it also handles the waste from Torremolinos and Alhaurín de la Torre.
Apart from these advances on projects to complete sewage treatment in the province, the Andalusian government's main achievement this year has been the improvements to the road linking the coast to Gaucín via Manilva, which cost 4.3 million euros
In terms of education, in recent weeks work has begun on new secondary schools at Teatinos (Málaga) and Rincón de la Victoria, and the project for the one at Las Lagunas (Mijas) has been put to tender. There is still no news about the school planned for San Pedro Alcántara, but at least the town is to have a new health centre, for which the works were contracted a few days ago.
As has become habitual in recent years, the biggest investment from the regional government has been the Malga metro, and that is likely to be the case for some time because of accumulated delays in the works.
The only tunnel which is currently being built is between the Tetuán bridge and the Alameda Principal, but the stretch of track which will run down Avenida de Andalucía has been suspended because the contract with the previous constructor was rescinded and the tender process has to be repeated. It is still not known what will happen about the above-ground stretch of line between El Corte Inglés and the Civil Hospital. The Junta's ministry of Public Works is now free to put the works ( costing 41 million euros) to tender, but has not done so yet because of Malaga council's outright opposition to the line in this area.
Traffic-free Alameda and subsidised housing
At the same time as the metro is extended to the city centre, most of the Alameda will be pedestrianised so that traffic will only be able to use the central area. The north side forms part of the reurbanisation of the metro and will therefore be financed by the Junta (3.5 million euros). On the south side, the city hall is about to put the project to tender to convert it into a 23 metre-wide boulevard beside the Soho district. The cost is expected to be 5.2 million euros and it should be completed in the second half of 2018. Also waiting to be put to tender is the construction of the central area of the Alameda, for 2.7 million euros.
Most of the money spent by Malaga city hall this year has been on VPO social housing. In the Trinidad-Perchel district 23 apartments of this type have been built, and another 16 are under construction in Calle Calvo. In the past three months, three other developments which will include 88 VPOs have been put to tender or contracted.
Still pending are the conversion of Campamento Benítez into a large periurban park (it is open provisionally while town planning processes are completed), the reform of the old jail at Cruz del Humilladero and the long-awaited remodelling of the Salamanca market (waiting to be put to tender.)
The bullring and Bernardo de Gálvez centre still pending
The provincial government is about to complete the visitors' reception centre at the Caminito del Rey, and improvements have been carried out to the Great Trail hiking route in the same area.
So far, progress on two star projects in Malaga city has been very slow: one is the remodelling of the bullring to turn it into a cultural and leisure centre, although it is hoped that the contract can be put to tender early in 2018. The other is the Bernardo de Gálvez Centre of American Studies which, it has now been decided, will be located in the grounds of La Térmica cultural centre.