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Still no end date for works to end daily chaos at Arroyo de la Miel motorway junction

Vehicles queue on the hard shoulder to leave the A-7 at Arroyo de la Miel.
Vehicles queue on the hard shoulder to leave the A-7 at Arroyo de la Miel. / Ñito Salas
  • The first stone was laid 14 months ago but works have made little progress; daily tailbacks make this one of the worst traffic black spots on the Costa del Sol

More than 14 months after the first stone was laid for the works to relieve the serious traffic problem at the Arroyo de la Miel exit on the A-7, little progress has been made.

The scene is repeated several times a day at km 222 of the main Costa del Sol motorway. Drivers wanting to use the Arroyo exit queue up on the hard shoulder way before the slip road itself starts. On their left traffic in the inside lane passes at high speed, unable to respect the minimum safety distance from the queue.

The central government laid the first stone of the works in July last year. The project itself was announced in 2015 - an election year - with a budget of "between 15 and 19 million euros" which was finally reduced to 10.1 million.

An initial timescale of more than 50 months was set, although the then minister for Public Works, Íñigo de la Serna, said, as he laid the first stone, that this only referred to how the funding would be distributed in the forthcoming state budgets. The work itself, according to his calculations, would take around two years, and therefore ought to be ready in 2019. Nothing could be further from reality.

Until January this year, the then PP-led central government had only spent 316,323 euros of the more than ten million promised, according to a parliamentary response to a question put by Socialist MP Miguel Ángel Heredia. The scarce funding and the lack of progress fuelled the main arguments used against the PP by the Socialist mayor of Benalmádena, Víctor Navas.

After the vote of no confidence, in which Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez became prime minister, both parties exchanged roles. The PSOE avoided complaining about the lack of activity on the works site, despite there being little movement all summer, and the PP seized the opportunity to return the blows dealt previously by their Socialist rivals.

The provincial head of the Partido Popular, Elías Bendodo, demanded last week that the PSOE resume work and give priority to the project; he accused the central government of being "incapable of continuing the work started" by the former government led by Mariano Rajoy.

The PSOE replied with a commitment to shorten the timescale but failed to offer a completion date. Navas, who months earlier had demanded that the PP finish the works within a maximum of 18 months, now says that he will meet with representatives of the Public Works ministry to reduce the time to 24 months, counting from now. This means that the junction will not be finished at least before the end of 2020.

The project includes the construction of a huge roundabout, similar to the one at the Plaza Mayor junction and an independent, two-lane access road, covering 2.3 kilometres.

The Spanish traffic authority, DGT, sends out daily warnings of hold-ups at this junction that is used by some 15,000 vehicles every day.

On Thursday last week, for example, four traffic warnings were issued: two between 9am and 10am, another at around 2pm and the final one after 6pm.