BarcelonaWith a little delay compared to the first announcements, Barcelona has already activated the countdown to start works on the first four pedestrian-first streets in Eixample's superilla: Consell de Cent, Rocafort, Borrell and Girona, and the squares that will appear where two of these streets cross. The preliminary work, which is to move bicycle hire statiosn and loading and unloading areas for delivery lorries, will be launched during the second half of July. The works as such will start in the second half of August, with an expected duration of eight and a half months, which should allow the City Council to complete them before the next local elections.
This express schedule will mean work will start on all areas simultaneously. As soon as the machines start working, however, these four streets will already apply the new logic for mobility: vehicles travelling along them will be obliged to turn at every intersection. Therefore, it will no longer be possible to drive from one end to the other of streets such as Consell de Cent.
What will be guaranteed during this period of work is that there will always be one lane of traffic for residents, services and emergency vehicles and a sidewalk available for pedestrians. For this reason, the work will be carried out in two phases, first on the right-hand side and then on the left. However, work will start at the same time all along the street in order to meet the demanding deadlines.
Once everything is finished –officials are confident of meeting the schedule, but admit that difficulties may arise in some sections– the tarmac will be replaced by granite and tiles, and ten times more greenery. Traffic would have to have a testimonial role and with the speed always limited to 10 km/h. And at the intersections of the new pedestrian-first streets there will be squares, which cars will not be allowed to cross.
"They will be 21st century streets," according to Janet Sanz, deputy mayor for Urban Planning, who claims that what will be applied in the Eixample is a "qualitative leap" on the model already applied in other areas of the city. Although bicycles will be able to continue to use the central section of the streets, the bike lanes on Consell de Cent and Girona will disappear, and Valencia and Gran Via in the case of Consell de Cent, and Roger de Llúria and Pau Claris in the case of Girona, will be proposed as alternatives.
The budget for these first four streets and squares is €52.7m, which will be partly financed by the EU's Next Generation funds.
No precautionary stop
The City Council denies that the complaint filed against the project at the Public Prosecutor's Office has any effect on the schedule of works. The precedent, it says, is the complaint against the reform of the Via Laietana in which three of the seven petitions filed requesting the precautionary stop of the works have already been rejected.
In fact, the Councillor for Urbanism assures that it is starting an information campaign, with letters to affected residents, meetings with the organisations and the deployment of a team of street informers. A specific phone number will also be activated to answer questions about the works, as well as an email.
Green light to the removal of Sant Antoni slab
The deputy mayor of Urbanism, Janet Sanz, has also reported that the project to remove the controversial concrete slab of the Ronda Sant Antoni is continuing according to plan, and today has received the green light from the government commission. The forecast is that the removal work can begin in November and that the new development project, which has generated many tensions in Sant Antoni and Raval, will be ready early next year. According to the latest proposal, the street will become a pedestrian-first area, but will leave a lane for buses, bicycles and delivery trucks.
The new project is expected to be completed early next year.