The final section of the Bailén-Granada motorway. / SUR

29 April 1997: New, faster road connects Malaga with Madrid

The final stretch of dual carriageway was opened in Jaén province, which meant the capital could be reached from the Costa del Sol in five hours

SHAY CONAGHAN

Malaga province and the Costa del Sol were finally connected with Madrid, the capital of Spain, in an uninterrupted manner for the first time in 1997 after the final section of the Bailén-Granada motorway, a 27km stretch of road located between La Guardia and Noalejo in Jaén, was opened. It came at a cost of 15 billion pesetas (equivalent to just over 90 million euros).

The then minister for Public Works, Rafael Arias Salgado, highlighted the importance of the road for the provinces of Granada and Jaén, but that it was "vital" for Malaga province, and especially the Costa del Sol.

The new road drastically cut down journey times to an average of just under five hours. Previously, drivers had a few different options to get to Madrid, though it always meant they had to go out their way to make the journey.

They could take a 40 minute detour via the Cordoba road in order to complete the journey, which also added an extra 116km to a roundtrip made to the capital.

If drivers chose to do the route through Cordoba, they would have to drive on non-motorway roads, such as the section down to Antequera, which hadn't yet been improved. The alternative was to use the motorway between Seville and Cordoba by joining it through Écija, but that too meant a deviation of 30 kilometres.

Tough project

Each kilometre of the motorway came at an average cost of 457 million pesetas (2.7 million euros), as the cost of the motorway itself came to a total of 53 billion pesetas (318 million euros), which was a 50% increase from the original 35 billion (210 million) awarded to the four different companies who worked on separate sections of the motorway.

Minister Arias-Salgado. / SUR

According to the project managers, the La Guardia-Noalejo stretch was the toughest and most expensive section of the 116km-long Bailén-Granada motorway to complete.

The landscape meant that four tunnels had to be built to improve the route and preserve the ecosystem, as well as the construction of fourteen viaducts, eight flyovers and four underpasses. Moreover, the managers highlighted how they even had to drill through solid bedrock along the Guadalbullón river.