Friday, 26 January 2024, 12:34
A wide red line with white borders is being drawn on what has become known as the 'road of death', the A-355, between the exit on the Guadalhorce motorway and Coín and from Coín towards Monda. This is the first time this measure has been brought in in the province of Malaga and among the first in Spain (there are some cases in Catalonia) and it is in line with innovative indications from the European Union regarding road safety.
The width, around 30 centimetres, and the bright colouring at first give the impression that we are looking at a computer-generated image rather than a real photograph. The reality is that workers have been given the meticulous task of first cleaning the central section and then painting the white stripes and the red line in the middle.
The aim is clear: to remind drivers that this is a dangerous, two-way road and that under no circumstances should drivers be allowed to enter the oncoming lane or overtake. In fact, the work started in the area closest to the Guadalhorce motorway, given that the good layout at the junction means that many cars do not lose speed and step on the accelerator more than necessary after turning off.
The measure was announced in December as part of a package of proposals that have been discussed in various technical meetings between the Andalusian regional government, the Directorate-General of Traffic (DGT) and Coín council, all of whom are understandably concerned about the disastrous trend of this road, which accounted for 26% of road deaths in the province in 2023.
It is a measure that aims to make an impact and is also expected to be highly cost-effective. Two examples of its application are on various sections of the same road in Catalonia, the Eix Diagonal, between Vilanova del Camí (Anoia) and Vilafranca del Penedès and Òdena and Manresa. The Catalan authorities justified this measure on the need to reinforce drivers' perception of the risk of invading the oncoming lane.
Both the mayor of Coín, Francisco Santos, and the delegate of the Andalusian government in Malaga, Patricia Navarro, held meetings with the traffic authority following the increase in accidents, especially since May last year. And, in fact, there are more possible solutions on the table.
The DGT already had plans to install speed cameras once it had studied the dangerous stretch for more time, but now it is considering bringing forward that decision. Currently, there are no speed cameras on the A-355, except on the final stretch, in Ojén. That part of the road is winding and this deters drivers, who reduce speed. This is not the case in the Coín area, where there are long straights, and at the aforementioned exit from the Guadalhorce motorway.
The road has seen an exponential increase in traffic intensity as a result of the strengthening of economic, employment and leisure links with Marbella and the coast. What was an initial volume of 7,000 vehicles per day has grown to 10,000 and now sees peaks of almost 20,000.
The Junta has allocated a sum in its 2024 budget to improve safety on this road. In recent months, a parapet has been installed on one of the bridges; protective barriers have been installed on four kilometres of the road; signage changes have been made; road markings have been repainted with reflective paint; a continuous double line has been painted, among other measures.
In addition, the installation of speed awareness monitors to remind drivers of the need to control speed is being considered.
However, the most costly measure the Andalusian government has in the pipeline is twofold: building a central reservation and widening the carriageway, so that in certain sections there are lanes where slower vehicles can 'move to one side'.
The A-355 regional road links Cártama and Marbella for 41 kilometres, a journey time of about 40 minutes.
The road is part of what was to be the Marbella-Vélez inland 'arc road', promised by the Junta de Andalucía in 1992. The route remained unfinished and on the eastern side of the province it has taken the form of the A-356 that links Vélez-Málaga and Casabermeja.
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