News April, 3rd 2010 by

Work on San Pedro tunnel resumes after months of delay

Barriers marking the tunnel excavation in San  Pedro, Marbella

Barriers marking the tunnel excavation in San Pedro, Marbella

Excavators have resumed work on the tunnel system that will run under highway A-7 in Marbella, after more than three months of ‘nearly paralysed’ operation due to heavy winter rains. OHL, licensee of the work, is digging the double tunnel, which will run about a kilometre through San Pedro.

The project, budgeted at 60 million euros, is now 75 percent complete, according to the Ministry of Development.

There are two access ramps to the underground tunnel and two tunnel mouths which workers will reach by digging from from the centre of the tunnel outwards.

The results of the work so far can be seen more clearly in the central excavation. The pillars that will hold the tunnel up resemble the unpolished columns of an ancient temple carved into the earth. We see two rooms with high ceilings and three rows of pillars that extend several meters to the bottom of the underground cavity. But the noise of the bulldozers quickly end such reveries. They operate at a steady pace throughout the day, and their noise intensifies in the evening.

Work continues without a break. Last January, the company introduced a third shift in the evenings, resulting in 24- hour, continuous operation. This rigorous schedule only began in mid-March, however, with winter rains nearly paralysing work since December. Sources point out that rainfall ‘has caused a significant delay because we have been at a total standstill for nearly three months’.

The stoppage began just as work had reached its fastest pace, and just at that phase of the project when a faster pace was needed. The battalion of workers had grown to 150 members. A large number had to go home during the rain, and they are ‘only now recovering the rhythm of work’, minister Jose Blanco said.

Project managers say, however, that the delay will not initially affect the deadlines marked on the calendar, set for later this year or early 2011. The solution is to speed up work, which is now focused on excavation of the tunnel at the end of the upper slab of the infrastructure, with only 150 meters of excavation remaining.

If all goes well, then by July, once the top slab is in place, traffic will run once again on the surface of the future tunnel. That reopening of the surface route will be only for local travel according to the Ministry, however, with the southern bypass remaining open for vehicles bypassing San Pedro. 

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