Wednesday, October 20

The “highway to hell” of depopulation: the town of Cuenca where “you drive on the left”


There is a town in Cuenca where “you drive on the left.” In the English style. At least that is what the residents of Casas de Garcimolina say, in the Serranía Baja Cuenca, one of the areas of Spain most affected by depopulation. The fault lies with the CUV 5003 road. We must avoid the potholes on this road that runs through the Moya region and that connects Salvacañete and Landete through towns such as Algarra, El Cubillo, Santo Domingo de Moya or Casas de Garcimolina. It is the whiting that bites its tail: with bad communications, less desire to live in the village.

Castilla-La Mancha has just approved a pioneering Depopulation Law which in its article 69 expressly states that “transport infrastructure planning instruments will include specific programs that guarantee accessibility to sparsely populated areas or areas at risk of depopulation , by means of the conditioning of the existing network and its adequate maintenance, conservation and exploitation “. Of course, the law is recent and, in addition, this aspect is lost in a sea of ​​powers (the holders of the roads go from the State, the autonomous community or the councils). On the other hand, the strategy to be developed by the law is not expected before the end of the year.

“The road is a symbol of the abandonment of peoples”

In view of what is happening in this area, the task is enormous in terms of transport infrastructure. This Tuesday the residents of these municipalities of Cuenca have concentrated in the Huertos de Moya, the point of the road where, say its inhabitants “the new road ends and hell begins.”

It is a mobilization that they describe as “historic” after a first attempt in Easter 2020 frustrated by the pandemic. They have been asking for the total repair of a road whose condition is “regrettable” for a decade.

Anabel Blas, spokesperson for the ‘El Sabinarejo’ Women’s Association, one of the participating groups explains that “we have been waiting for it to be fixed for more than ten years. The only thing they do is put patches on but they don’t make it new. The patches end up becoming potholes. The road is a potato. ”

It is not the only problem that deepens the demographic drain in the area. “Our towns are not only linked by the road, but we are joined by the same problems and demands. Lack of telephone coverage, poor internet connection, few inhabitants, an aging population or a general feeling of abandonment are just some examples.”

For Anabel Blas, the state of the road “is a symbol of the abandonment suffered by these peoples” affected by depopulation. “We already know that it is not an important road but it is the only one we have.” The school bus circulates through it every day, with the few remaining children, the post office, the baker, the line car … “We have to use it and in its condition, in a year you have loaded the car. No I already speak of when there is snow or ice, “he laments.

All use it to reach populations that, in some cases, do not exceed twenty inhabitants. “Politicians only remember depopulation when there are elections and they need the four votes of the people. In practice, the simple thing, which is to have a good road, we do not have it. And let’s not talk about issues like having a pediatrician, for example. Of course a young family is not going to come to live here when the closest one is an hour’s drive away. It is a sum and it goes on. They cannot talk about solving depopulation when there are so many deficiencies, “laments this neighbor from Garcimolina houses.

The Provincial Council asks for “patience”

The Cuenca Provincial Council has come to the step of the mobilization and asks the residents of these towns for “patience” because, it says, “they are working to improve the security of the CUV-5003 that connects the towns of Salvacañete and Landete, until At the moment it has carried out reinforcement and renovation works in 13.6 kilometers and has projected and even carried out expropriations in another 11.5 kilometers. ” That supposes, according to the provincial Institution, “more than 75 percent of the 33 kilometers that this road has.”

Specifically, the Highways Service has carried out a reinforcement of the road surface between the municipalities of Salvacañete and El Cubillo and has planned the continuation of this road to Algarra, at the other end of the road. It has invested 1.5 million euros in the variant that connects Landete and Huertos de Moya and also has the project between Huertos de Moya and Santo Domingo de Moya. In fact, he adds, in a statement, in the coming weeks the procedures for the expropriations of this section will be carried out.

The vice president of the Provincial Council and head of Works, Francisco López, assures that “we are working on improving the Provincial Highway Network and we are aware of the situations that exist in the province” but remember that an investment “so important” requires doing it in phases. , “because administrative procedures and budgets act as limiting factors.”

López demands “understanding” from the citizens, since “we have been in office for two years, with a pandemic in between, and there are many needs that the 1,500 kilometers of roads of the Provincial Network and the 238 municipalities of Cuenca have.”

In fact, the deputy for Works says he is “satisfied with the work that is being carried out.” It alludes to this year’s budgets that include 15.5 million euros for roads, to which must be added the 4 million euros that were approved in an extraordinary way through the remaining treasury, “a very important bet of this Institution to face the needs of the province ”.

An explanation that does not serve the neighbors. “Chunks are being fixed and ours never arrives,” asserts Anabel Blas. “They have been saying for many years that yes, yes, that they are going to fix it but in practice it never comes and today was a way of making the problem visible. The mayors support us but they go as far as they go.”

“Work is being done to design for the first time a Comprehensive Road Plan that plans provincial interventions in an orderly manner and according to the criteria of need”

Francisco Lopez
– Vice-president of the Cuenca Provincial Council and head of the Works area

The vice president also wanted to point out that the Cuenca Provincial Council is working to design for the first time “a Comprehensive Highway Plan” that plans provincial interventions in an orderly manner and according to the criteria of need. López is convinced that this projection in the medium and long term will serve to “reassure the neighbors” because it will improve the way this service works.

“We know what is going to be done, what we don’t know is when,” replies Anabel Blas. “We want to fight. We know they are kidding us. We will do whatever it takes if this continues.”

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