Tuesday, September 28

Drivers and neighbors celebrate the end of tolls in Catalonia after half a century paying them: “It was time”


The oldest toll in Spain, that of the C-32 as it passes through Vilassar de Dalt (Barcelona), stopped charging drivers who passed this Monday, shortly after eight in the afternoon, while they did the rest of tolls of the four highways that are released as of this September 1. After half a century traveling through toll roads and after the historical protests of the movement in favor of the free roads, the residents of the affected regions have seen how they could finally enter the roads without going through the cash register. A situation that has generated celebration, joy and slow marches in various points of the new 550 kilometers opened, distributed between the AP-7, in its section between Salou and La Jonquera, and the AP-2, from Zaragoza to El Vendrell, the C-32, known as the Maresme highway, and the C-33, between Barcelona and Granollers.

Very close to the Vilassar de Dalt toll barriers, the Coordinadora Preservemos el Maresme has celebrated the end of tolls, 52 years later, with a lunch box dinner and a toast. The entity’s spokesman, Antoni Esteban, assures that once “the barrier has fallen” it is now time to demand that the announced pacification of the N-II highway be accelerated, another of the region’s historical claims in relation to the mobility and infrastructure. “It’s the most natural thing,” Esteban assures about the Government’s intention to invest in improving the municipalities’ connections with the C-32 to move the traffic of the N-II and turn the old highway into a more friendly way for pedestrians and bicycles, reducing the capacity for road traffic.

With all the spokesman for the Preservemos el Maresme Coordinator understands that the most effective way to pacify the road is by betting decisively on public transport. “Only then will people not take the car,” he explains. In this sense, Esteban has charged harshly against Renfe’s Cercanías service, as it is expensive and deficient. The spokesman for the Maresme anti-tolling movement recalls that to make the Mataró-Barcelona route, three zones will be paid to the Cercanías ticket, while at the southern end of Barcelona only one zone is paid to travel a similar distance. “The ‘maresmecs’ pay triple,” he exclaims.

Regarding the future of the C-32, the Coordinadora Preservamos el Maresme rejects having to recover any payment system, as the Spanish government has already advanced: “They are putting it into our heads that we have to pay yes or yes and we have more than 50 years paying the maintenance of all the highways in Spain with our taxes “. Esteban demands “alternatives” to finance the maintenance of the highways that do not load it to the tape or to increase the fiscal pressure. The neighborhood spokesperson also considers the vignette model “obsolete”.

After the celebration, a group of residents have traveled the C-32 from south to north in a march of vehicles to symbolically release the three tolls that were active in the region until this Tuesday afternoon. In addition to the Vilassar toll, the C-32 also had the Arenys and Santa Susanna tolls.

Out the blocks in Altafulla

The New Jersey-style concrete blocks located in the roundabout to access the AP-7 in Torredembarra are now history. This morning they have been removed by the workers, an action celebrated by the neighborhood of the Brisas del Mar de Altafulla urbanization, which since 2018 has demanded their elimination in about thirty protests. During this Tuesday the roundabout has not yet recovered its original appearance and vehicles are forced to deviate as before. The concrete blocks have been replaced by temporary cones, which will be definitively removed this coming midnight, coinciding with the freeway being free. During the morning operators have been removing posters and adapting the road. Neighbors trust that there will be no traffic jams.

Residents of the Brisas del Mar urbanization in Altafulla have complained since the placement of the concrete blocks that the changes implemented in the roundabout harm them. In fact, it does not allow them to go from the urbanization directly to Torredembarra, but they have to deviate about two kilometers along the N-340.

María José Carabante, a neighbor of the Brisas del Mar urbanization, celebrated that this midnight the original circulation of the roundabout is recovered. “It has been an ordeal because we live in Altafulla but we are closer to Torredembarra and every day we pass the roundabout three or four times,” he said. According to Carabante, each time they lose between ten and fifteen minutes, depending on the traffic. In addition, during the three years of neighborhood struggle they have denounced that the accident rate has increased. They have managed to make more than 30 roadblocks and protests, usually during high-mobility weekends in summer.

With the lifting of tolls and the recovery of the “normality” of the roundabout, the residents trust that the traffic in the area will not increase much. In fact, many drivers who travel on the AP-7 leave the highway and re-enter Torredembarra to obtain the discount for the section between the town of Torrenses and Salou. Also, many trucks that have their origin or destination in Tarragona end up using the Torredembarra toll to join or leave the AP-7, which increases traffic at this point.

In a statement, the Altafulla City Council has also been satisfied with the release, which will allow “to decongest the A-7 and the N-340” and “improve the connection and mobility between municipalities of the Baix Gaià”.

Slow march in Salou

The members of the entity ‘Basta, AP-7 gratis already’ have organized this Tuesday night a slow march to celebrate the gratuity of the road. A dozen cars and two trucks slowly circulated about 800 meters between the Vila-seca trunk toll and the Salou exit with protest banners. The action has served to recall the entity’s struggle in recent years, which is now transformed into the ‘Never again’ movement. The objective of the platform will be to avoid the implementation of any type of payment to these channels, such as the vignette system. The entity’s spokesman, Lorenzo Navarro, has indicated that these routes have been amortized supply over the years and that now “they become public.”

Banners in Sant Julià de Ramis: “It was time”

A fortnight of residents of Sant Julià de Ramis (Girona) have come at midnight this Tuesday to the toll installed in their municipality, North Girona, to hang two banners. In them you could read “It was time” in reference to all the years of payment of tolls to circulate on the AP-7. The residents have come on foot from the municipality and have gone to the barriers of some lanes that have been inoperative to hang the banners. One of the signs has been visible in the direction of vehicles leaving the highway and another in the opposite direction. Neighbors have taken the opportunity to fire firecrackers and applaud for the historic milestone of the end of the AP-7 concession, pointing out that this was an infrastructure already amortized.



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