Stuck in lack of investment

Not even gasoline at two euros per liter has prevented the main highways of Catalonia from collapsing during the long weekend we have had.

09 June 2022 Thursday 17:06
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Stuck in lack of investment

Not even gasoline at two euros per liter has prevented the main highways of Catalonia from collapsing during the long weekend we have had. As happens every time there is an outbound operation, collapse is assured because it is impossible for the infrastructures that are designed for tens of thousands of cars to absorb the half million vehicles that leave the Barcelona metropolitan area in a few hours. This happens to us now, it has happened to us before and, without the need for divination skills, it will continue to happen to us.

It is enough to remember the historical images of the seventies with the roads of the Maresme and Garraf coast full of Seat 600 queuing to enter Barcelona to know that traffic congestion is not a problem of our days, but is a chronic illness. Like last weekend, we saw it before at Easter, we will see it in a few days with the festival of Sant Joan and it will be repeated at the end of July with the arrival of the peak of the summer holidays. Queues for miles are part of the landscape at very specific times of the calendar and it is worth asking if this situation, unbearable for those who are trapped in them, has a solution. And the answer seems to be negative, no matter how many patches are put on.

No country plans its road infrastructure to respond to exceptional moments. We will all agree that having highways prepared to serve half a million cars three or four days a year is unsustainable, from an economic and environmental point of view. But, certainly, this does not exempt those who manage traffic and infrastructure from making effective decisions to minimize the impact, either by enabling additional lanes, agreeing specific restrictions with carriers or improving circulation routes.

Now we can debate the impact that the elimination of tolls has had on the main Catalan highways, after decades of religiously paying for every centimeter of asphalt, or we can hide behind the coincidence with the Montmeló motorcycle Grand Prix, which has further complicated the things, but it is an indisputable fact that the capacity of roads has limits. We see it on certain dates, but we also experience it on a daily basis in many sections and, especially, at the entrances to the city of Barcelona.

Having verified the above, it is pertinent to ask about the mobility model that we have. Speeches and theory will tell us that the alternative is public transport, but is it really? Is the railway network that we have today in Catalonia a real alternative to the private car? I doubt that anyone can support this statement because, among other reasons, we have been accumulating decades of lack of investment in infrastructure, as revealed year after year by the State investment data in Catalonia.

Precisely, if something arouses unanimity on the Catalan economic and political board, it is the endemic fiscal mistreatment of Catalonia by the State, which affects all citizens and all companies alike, whatever they think. Whoever tries to make a caricature of the situation by saying that this is the refrain of the independentists will be wrong.

With the data from the Ministry of Finance in hand, in 2021, in Catalonia only 740 million investment was executed, 36% of the budgeted amount, while in Madrid the State invested 2,086 million, which represents an execution of 184% . And this photo is no exception, because it has been repeating itself for years, whoever governs in Moncloa governs. It does not matter if the president is called Pedro Sánchez or Mariano Rajoy. He rides so much, he rides so much.

To speak of mobility in the Barcelona area and in the main road axes is also to speak of investments. For this reason, if we only look at the collapse of the motorways without taking into account all the infrastructures that have been left in the drawer for decades, especially the railway network, we will hardly be able to find useful answers. In Catalonia, we are stuck on the roads and have been waiting in the investment queue for a long time. Once again, the Spanish Government has promised to correct this situation, although we already know that paper can withstand anything, but the patience of citizens may not last as long.



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