The new footbridge over the Guadalhorce river as it passes through Álora. / SUR

New footbridge in Álora signals first stage of the Guadalhorce valley's Green Corridor

The Malaga provincial authority's project aims to create the largest river park in Spain, with a total investment of 156 million euros

ANDREA JIMÉNEZ

The opening of a new wooden footbridge in Álora has marked the start of an ambitious plan to create the largest river park in Spain.

The walkway is part of the first section of the Diputación provincial authority's 156-million-euro Green Corridor scheme alongside the River Guadalhorce. The park will encompass some four and a half million square metres.

The initiative includes the eight municipalities crossed by the lower stretch of the river (Álora, Ardales, Pizarra, Alhaurín el Grande, Coín, Cártama, Alhaurín de la Torre and Malaga) on a 54-kilometre route, between Los Gaitanes gorge (home to the famous Caminito del Rey) and the mouth of the Guadalhorce just west of Malaga city.

The Diputación has invested 800,000 euros in this first project, after the bridge was destroyed in the 2012 floods

This week authorities attended the official opening of the footbridge that connects the districts of El Puente and Estación in Álora.

With a length of 90 metres, the new structure has replaced the old bridge that was damaged in the floods in 2012, separating the two districts.

The characteristics of the new bridge are similar to the other wooden walkways used on the province's Senda Litoral coastal path, with deep foundations to guarantee their resistance to heavy rain.

The Diputación has spent 800,000 euros on the Álora project, which will be integrated into stage 2 of the GR-248 Guadalhorce Valley hiking trail, between the town and Pizarra, that forms part of the province's Gran Senda network of walks.

The total cost of the Guadalhorce Green Corridor project will amount to 156 million euros and be funded at local, provincial and regional levels in addition to receiving aid from European funds.

The initiative was developed by the Diputación as a complement to the nearby Caminito del Rey walkway, suspended above its spectacular gorge, which has become one of the province's most popular visitor attractions.

The Guadalhorce project will also allow for environmental improvements to the river and favour the revitalisation of the towns it passes through. The plan has eight lines of action, which include the environmental recovery of the banks of the river, its tributaries and some thirty streams, along with the creation of several large recreation areas.

The project also includes the introduction of new walking trails and the construction of 16 new bridges and footpaths in the steepest areas to favour mobility and accessibility, along with new cultural and tourist facilities.

Next stages

One of the next stages to begin in the coming months is a trail with three viewpoints in Pizarra.

The Diputación will invest 1.8 million euros in this part of the project, which is expected to be complete within eight months. The route will link the town centre of Pizarra and the district of Vega Hipólito, crossing an area with views over the Guadalhorce valley, the river and the Sierra de las Nieves National Park. Parking spaces will be created and a wooden walkway will be built to cross the Fuensanta stream.

Another section of the project in Coín, with an investment of 347,059 euros, has been put out to tender, while stretches in Alhaurín de la Torre and Cártama, are pending approval from the Junta de Andalucía.

"It is a very ambitious and long-term project," the Diputación's president Francisco Salado said.