Sunday, 28 May 2017
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accident125The latest in a long line of broken promises is that the EN125 road works will be finished by June 30th this year, before the ‘summer season’ that appears already to have started - so successful is the Algarve as a tourist destination.

Infraestruturas de Portugal ‘guarantees’ that the work on the section between Vila do Bispo and Olhão on the Algarve’s only free east-west road really will be completed by the end of June.

This date is in the ‘work plan’ approved and being carried out by the sub-contractor, Rotas do Algarve Litoral - a plan that so far has failed to hit any guaranteed end-date and has become a by-word for unexplained delays.

"The surface improvement, the renewal of signalling, the installation of security systems and the work of rectifying intersections by building several roundabouts aimed at improving local accessibility, are proceeding at a rapid pace," according to today’s gushing press release that is being treated with the suspicion it deserves after years of broken promises.

The company points out that works "are now in their final phase and will be completed before the summer season with the greatest flow of tourists in the Algarve region."

According to Infraestruturas de Portugal, the stretch between Vila do Bispo and Lagos, about 19.8 kilometres was completed at the beginning of April, with the remainder of the 105 kilometres “in the final phase of completion.”

Despite pledging to scrap the tolls when in opposition, the Socialist government still refuses to take seriously proposals to scrap the tolls on the Via do Infante motorway despite clear economic and social advantages of returning this road as a ‘free to use’ facility.

It has cost taxpayers more to have a motorway toll system than to maintain the motorway as 'free to use.' The PPP contract contains secret clauses which, it is suspected, cover the compensation due should the government withdraw from the lucrative concession agreement - lucrative for the concession holder, that is. 

The EN125, even if finished before the summer season, is already overloaded, often slow, inefficient and populated with dangerously frustrated drivers.

As for the EN125 death rate, those who are in favour of the tolls and say of the EN125, “it’s bad drivers that cause accidents,” admit that with a higher volume of traffic using the EN125, the accident and death rate inevitably will rise due to the number of journeys taken on this 'alternative' to the motorway.

Next, possibly in 2018, but nobody is holding their breath, roadworks start on the eastern section of the 'road of death' between Olhão and VRSA.

The Via do Infante motorway tolls started in December 2011 in a 30-year contract. The government promised a €250 million upgrade for the EN125 and promptly cancelled it, leading Loulé mayor, Vitor Aleixo, later to complain ‘we’ve been conned.’

Five and half years later, the first section of EN125 is nearing completion. The contractor for the second section has not yet been appointed, something you would have though that Infrasestruturas de Portugal could usefully have been getting on with.