Home News Public outrage grows against new bridge in central Tavira

Public outrage grows against new bridge in central Tavira

Published on 15/11/2019

The Tavira Sempre movement has criticized the planned construction advances regarding the bridge over the River Gilão in Tavira, which will be the fifth one along the river in a space of 1.5km. Many members of the public consider the bridge to be a useless addition to the city, claiming that it will needlessly increase car traffic in the historic town centre, in a place “where there are already three bridges crossing the River Gilão inside Tavira”.

The movement embodies strong popular opposition to the project, and condemns “the utter contempt that the Tavira City Council has shown through the actions towards those whom it governs.”

Beyond traffic, parking problems, and increased pollution, some have questioned what impact this 1.5 million euro project will have on the environment, both in the construction phase and when it is being used.

“What is the impact of this project on the Rio Gilão? What is the impact of this project on traffic in Tavira? None of this is known”, argued a Tavira Sempre spokesperson earlier this week. Speculators believe that the council attempted to hurry the project through the bureaucratic process, skipping a consultation phase and therefore spiting the varying opinions of the population of Tavira regarding the bridge revamp.

Those against the “renovation” of the bridge sustain that the Tavira City Council should have stuck to the official process, carrying out an environmental impact assessment “as the law advises”.

“It’s a matter of accounting for the impacts that the process may cause, to the environment, the landscape, the cultural heritage, the archaeological background, and the impact on people’s lives” Tavira Sempre argues.

The group hopes “that there will be common sense” from Tavira Council, and that this common sense will lead to the suspension of the work. However, as exemplified by the suspension of the demolition of the Vivenda Compostela in Portimão halfway through last week, common sense is a steep request from some council officials it seems.

“Our group is available to continue by the necessary means to stop the aberration that is proposed in the middle of our beautiful city,” the spokesperson conclude.

The new bridge has an estimated cost of 1.5 million euros, providing for one-way car traffic, more pedestrians and a bike lane.

By building a new bridge over the Gilão River in Tavira, the Council wants to “create a dynamic between the two banks of the river”. The decision was made by the current Secretary of State for Decentralization and Local Government, Jorge Botelho.

The new bridge is intended to replace a military bridge erected 29 years ago.

The mayor, Ana Paula Martins (who replaced Botelho), in statements to PUBLICO, justified the bridge as being “foreseen in all three electoral programs of the Socialist Party.” Therefore, she says she does not understand the reasoning for the vehement contestation. “The project was not hidden in the drawer,” she claims.