The map around the shaft that will be opened on Gran Via, near Plaza Espanya, to build the tunnel for the extension of line 8 of Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat (FGC) to Gràcia, does not show many options. The dense urban fabric of the Eixample in this area only breathes a little in the dilapidated Joan Miró park and it is there, in the area closest to Diputació street, where they intend to install the earth extraction zone for the tunnel boring machine. This is reflected in the construction project approved by the Government and which has the approval of the Barcelona City Council, although the neighborhood protest that calls for the salvation of the 178 affected trees has led the administrations to seek an alternative or, failing that, , to minimize the space occupied.
And those responsible for the Territory Department are there, looking at the map around the tunnel boring machine shaft and noting how difficult it is to reduce the impact derived from the execution of one of the most important infrastructure works in recent years. All this, in an electoral context that conditions any decision and yesterday brought up the issue again in the municipal commissions.
Sources from the Generalitat estimate the space necessary to fit everything they need at around one hectare: a material storage area, another for accumulation of the earth extracted by the tunnel boring machine, the space for loading and unloading the trucks with the corresponding access... The only alternatives are those that were discarded at the time because they had a greater impact on mobility or the daily life of some neighbors who will have to live with these jobs for up to five years.
The simplest option on a technical level, without taking into account the environment, would have been to cut the entire Gran Via, which during the work will maintain two lanes into Barcelona except at very specific times. Other options considered were the partial or total cut off of Paral·lel or Maria Cristina avenues and both are back on the table. In the case of Paral·lel, it would mean occupying half of the road with the corresponding impact on traffic and residents. As for Maria Cristina, it would significantly alter the activity of Fira de Barcelona and the city itself. Neither car show, nor Pyromusical, nor end of the year nor arrival of the marathon. All the things that happen between the two Venetian towers would be altered for more than three years.
Whichever solution is finally adopted, there is still time to make a decision. The bidding for the works is scheduled for summer and then the winning company will also be able to say its own, accepting or ruling out the possible locations proposed. Even with the start of the works, this issue can continue to be discussed since the tunnel boring machine –and the associated work area– will not arrive until 2025, at the earliest.