The Minister for Development, Ana Pastor, and the President of the Region of Murcia, Ramón Luis Valcárcel, inaugurated the first 30,8 kilometres of the autovía A-33, commonly referred to as the autovía del Altiplano, between the towns of Blanca and Jumilla.
The works have cost a total of 122,52 million euros in total, the 12.4 km stretch from Blanca-Abarán costing 58,53 million and the 18.32km length between Abarán-Jumilla, a total of 63,99 million euros.
The main aim of this new stretch of road is to improve communication links between the central and northern areas of the region, and save time for motorists, improving the flow of commercial traffic using the existing N-344 carriageway between Valencia and Murcia, the new stretch saving an average 10 minutes for drivers. Around 8000 drivers a day are currently using the N-344.
The new motorway has a series of links which connect with the A-30, the N-344, A-10 and A-20.
It also serves as a point of union between three important transport corridors, namely the autovía A-31 which links Albacete and Murcia, the autovía A-30 (Albacete-Murcia-Cartagena) and the autovía A-35 (Almansa-Xátiva).
However, this is only part of the whole project.
The original plans are for 90 kilometres of carriageway to link Blanca with Fuente la Higuera, a 90 km length of road, divided into 5 distinct sections, 3 of which run exclusively through Murcia, one which links into the Valencian community and a fifth linking into Castilla La Mancha.
The Minister confirmed yesterday that although the intention is to continue with the works and add in the remaining sections of road, that her hands are very much tied by the current economic situation and the pledge of her department to restrict spending to the budgets she has available." The project will continue," she said "the remaining parts will be carried out according to budgetary availability, as the crisis permits."
Patience will be required, and it is unlikely that the sections which will add in Jumilla-Yecla and Yecla- Caudete have any chance of construction taking place during this current term of office .
However, patience is a commodity in short supply in some areas of the region, which see their economic development stifled by lack of investment into the infrastructure which will link them into these major networks, and the opposition secretary general of the Yecla municipality "broke protocol" by handing in a letter to the Minister asking for more consideration to be given to the needs of the municipality, and emphasising the importance of this infrastructure to its local community.
It is quite unusual for something like this to happen at what are essentially, important propaganda occasions for the Ministry and regional politicians, and almost unheard of for an opposition politician to breach the strict formality of an occasion such as this to speak directly to the Minister. The socialist councillor, justified his action by saying that his party had requested that the Mayor of Yecla arrange a meeting with the Minister to put forward the case for giving this project priority, but that no answer had been forthcoming, so as a citizen of the town, he had taken it upon himself to pass the letter in person to the Minister.
But the fact is, there is no money, and as much as local councils may be desperate for investment into their communities, the government simply don't have any more money to spend on infrastructure, and have insisted they will not spend money they don´t have.
For the meantime, however, Blanca, Jumilla and Abarán, are now able to enjoy better connections and a faster road network linking them to the region and their neighbouring municipalities.
Image: The yecla councillor breaching protocol and handing the Minister his letter.
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