The leaders of Orihuela and Torrevieja have called for a reduced toll to be available to residents on the AP-7 motorway in order to ease congestion on the N-332.
The mayors of Torrevieja and Orihuela, Eduardo Dolón and Emilio Bascuñana, have called on the Ministry of Development and the management company of the A-7 motorway to bring in a ‘soft toll’ which they believe would reduce heavy traffic on the N-332, which runs parallel to the motorway between Torrevieja and Pilar de la Horadada.
The request was revealed at the official opening of Avenida Dénia, a new section of road which links the CV-95 with the interior urbanisations of Orihuela Costa and, it is hoped, will also ease congestion along the usual route from Torrevieja to the south.
Both mayors were present for the opening of the new road and used the opportunity to call for a reduction in toll fees to residents of the area. Bascuñana said that from a technological point of view it is a completely feasible proposal. The AP-7 motorway, which connects Cartagena with Crevillente (where it connects with the A-7), has a unique toll system, which requires drivers to pass through two tolls of 3.95 euros (in high season) located only about ten kilometers from each other: one in Los Montesinos and another in La Zenia. The argument for arranging the tolls in this manner is that drivers pay for the use of the motorway from Crevillente to Los Montesinos or from Cartagena to La Zenia – which does nothing to solve issues for motorists who wish to travel from Crevillente to Orihuela Costa.
The consequence of this is that the ‘free’ sections are used by around 20,000 vehicles per day and drivers in the know then reroute to avoid the tolls. The toll section is used by under 7000 cars per day. It is used almost exclusively by vehicles on long journeys – those from Madrid – and residential tourists with housing on the coast. Although the number of motorists using the toll section of motorway has increased since the financial crisis, the parallel N-332 in Torrevieja serves more than 50,000 vehicles daily and almost 30,000 in Orihuela Costa.
The company Ausur was awarded the motorway management contract in November 1998 for fifty years and so, it will continue to manage these tolls until 2048. Local opinion is that Ausur does not want this section of the N-332 to be widened. In 2015, the company lost a Supreme Court appeal against the Ministry of Development in which it claimed that the widening of the N-332 between Pilar de la Horadada and Torrevieja and between Torrevieja and Guardamar would cost the company €311 million in losses between 2009 and 2048.
The mayor of Torrevieja, Eduardo Dolón announced at the new road opening this week that, “Once the summer has passed I intend to gather all the mayors of the municipalities of the Vega Baja region to address all the priority needs and demands we have”.
The mayor of Torrevieja highlighted, among many isses, the serious traffic and communication problems of the N-332, not only as it passes through Torrevieja but throughout the coastal area of the region, and in the nearby municipalities such as Los Montesinos, Benijófar, Rojales and San Miguel de Salinas.
Dolón hopes that all the municipalities of the Vega Baja can come together in an effort to “once and for all”, ensure that the needs of the region become a reality in the coming years.