Changes to traffic in Avenida Antonio Machado in Benalmádena have been the subject of debate among residents for several months now. The closure of two lanes of this main coast road in the summer, which is the busiest time for traffic, displeased a lot of locals and a few weeks ago they organised a protest to demand that things be returned to how they were.
The council, however, argues that this is a project which they have been working on since 2014 and is one of a series of measures to make Benalmádena Costa more attractive for tourism and shopping.
"These are initiatives for sustainable development with new green zones and leisure facilities, wider pavements for pedestrians, the use of new technologies to assist residents and tourists and the restoration of archaeological sites," they say, and they have considered successful models such as those in Malaga, Madrid and Barcelona.
And, why now? "There is more private investment in the municipality now and several hotels have been or are being refurbished. We believe this is the opportune moment to renovate the main avenue along the coast and interest has already been shown by major stores and franchises," say council sources.
Despite the complaints and protests, they insist that this is a case of "reorganising" traffic, not reducing the lanes. In fact, the project keeps the four lanes which exist at present, but with a few changes: in the Fuengirola direction one lane will be for normal traffic and the other for buses and taxis, while in the Torremolinos direction one lane will be for normal traffic and the other for new mobility: bicycles and non-polluting vehicles.
With regard to the new parking spaces, most are temporary. Part of the space they occupy will be used to widen the lane towards Torremolinos, and the rest to extend the pavement. "Facilitating space for pedestrians and alternative types of transport is one of the main objectives set by the EU when allocating funding," says the council. They also insist that the obvious traffic jams and bottlenecks have only been at peak times and traffic flow has actually been much better.
It appears that local opposition to the plans will make no difference. In fact, a few days ago one of the corrective measures was put into effect: a new roundabout at the junction with the Carril del Siroco, which the council believes will reduce journey times by allowing earlier changes of direction between the Los Molinillos and Solymar roundabouts.