Monday, October 18

The “falla” of San Fernando de Henares: houses in danger of collapse ten years after the failed Metro works

When he had to do the military, Andrés Ramírez was put to shave fifths. The recruit took a liking to the matter and did not stop. Today he is 63 years old and has a certain fame as a hairdresser in San Fernando de Henares, where clients from Alcalá de Velilla de San Antonio or Azuqueca go to see him, according to his professional pride that today is cracking. The premises in which it has been installed for more than 30 years is on the ground floor of one of the last buildings in San Fernando to crack due to the problems in the ground caused by the works on Metro line 7B, inaugurated 13 years ago, without the Community of Madrid has still managed to find a lasting solution.

Andrés, like many of his neighbors, wakes up at dawn lately and stays awake. Tired, he works under tension. Every time a customer points out a new crack in the walls of the store, his veins swell. As he tells it, his eyes go glassy. “Any day, I burst,” he warns.

The apprehension that Ramírez feels is common in the residents of Rafael Alberti and La Presa streets, the last in which the problem has been manifested that for more than a decade has been threatening the homes of the section of metro line 7B between the San Fernando and Jarama stations, which did not appear in the original plans and which it was decided to add, altering the route, by the effort of Esperanza Aguirre, at the time president of the PP of Madrid and the Community, so that they would be released coinciding with the Autonomous elections of 2007. In the Ramírez block there are some 23 affected houses, but in the whole town there are around 200 affected.

In an area near a river bed, where it is speculated that an inland sea may have existed due to its composition, the TBMs facilitated, despite geological reports that warned of the danger, the entry of water into the ground, which has been undermining a land rich in plaster and threatening the foundations of multiple homes. “If they had asked the people, they would have already been told that this is full of water,” laments one of those affected, Eva Medina. The problems affect the line itself, which almost every year – this one too – has to close several stops in summer for maintenance.

Built next to the complex of the old Pilar school, which had to be evicted and is today in a dilapidated state due to the alteration of the soil, these blocks had been relatively lucky until now. But since January, the problems of the structure have worsened. “In the previous year and a half, the expansion joint between the blocks had increased by five centimeters, and in the last three months, another seven,” compares Andrés Ramírez.

A building has already had to be evicted and today it survives, propped up, awaiting demolition, after a few months of accelerated decline due, paradoxically, to some works to compact the foundations. In the neighborhood, it has been recurring for machines to introduce cement into the subsoil as a patch, but in this case it turned out that the compound acted as a containment barrier for the water that expelled the extraction well of the nearby metro station. And this because one of the collectors through which it had to flow was in a dilapidated state, without Metro or Canal de Isabel II, the public water company in Madrid, having noticed. Instead of caking, the substrate became even more porous.

Fear of sleeping at home

Work began last week to build a new collector, which was approved in July through the urgent process. The machines, however, only appeared after a hundred residents paraded through the Puerta del Sol to express their real fear that the buildings would collapse. At the same time, the owners were notified that the Tragsa company was going to carry out tastings to check the state of the subsoil with the residents inside, for days later to rectify and announce a temporary eviction.

Juan Antonio Fuentes and Eva Medina are doing this now, opening the door of their house one day a week and pointing out the cracks that have sprung up through walls and joints. “I’m like crazy looking for a flat,” explains he, who has started to work on his own. The Community promised to relocate the 23 families of Rafael Alberti, but at the moment it has not been able to find an alternative other than hotel rooms. Meanwhile, Juan Antonio and Eva’s doors don’t fit, and the windows won’t close. The balcony floor is sloping, which creates a strange sensation, almost an urge to jump outside. Eva sleeps in the living room, out of fear. Noises at night are especially ominous, as they can announce that the crack in the bedroom has been opened a little more. In another of the houses, Pepi Castro, 55, who bought the house in 1984 and is still paying the mortgage today, sees the black picture. “This has no solution, unless they throw it away and do it again,” they fear.

The Minister of Transport, Mobility and Infrastructure, David Pérez, assured in July that the Community of Madrid has spent 28 million euros in correcting the deficiencies of the metro work. But the definitive solution does not arrive. The mayor of San Fernando, Javier Corpa (PSOE), now threatens to persecute the president of the Community of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, to hand her a letter transferring the claims of the neighbors, who today are going through a dignified rehousing and an indemnification. “The fault of this is Esperanza Aguirre, but here the local leaders made their mouths water when they were told that instead of two stations they were going to put four,” recalls the hairdresser Ramírez, very discouraged these days. “This is undermining you, but the important thing is that it does not fall. It can come down!”.

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