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It’s election year so which projects are still a dream? 

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So what’s been in the news? What hasn’t, even El Tren (a project which I was convinced had long since been put out to pasture)  has poked its head above the parapet again. The dust has been blown off the files and it has been announced the project will now be completed in phases, with phase one of the south line being from Santa Cruz to Candelaria and from Santa Cruz to Tacaronte with respect to the north line.

It is likely, they said, that work on phase one of the south line would begin in 2016 and likewise on the north line in 2017. Good news surely, but hang on, perhaps “would” is too strong a word; maybe “should” would be nearer the mark but then again “could” has an even better ring to it and far less of a commitment. Personally I will believe it if and when it happens and not before, after all I am still trying to rationalise the decision to run a tramline to La Laguna only to stop it short of Los Rodeos Airport.

I am convinced El Tren is still very much a pipedream, as is a completed ring road and fully operational North and South hospitals, although recent news of 50 beds becoming operational at the North hospital  is a step in the right direction, even if they are purely for convalescing. They will free up operational beds elsewhere.

Closer to home, the “Puerto needs a Port” project is all cut and dry, plans agreed, put out to tender, and the Island’s government is close to a final agreement with a consortium. Just dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s  was all that was needed we were led to believe, so there is no reason why work couldn’t commence, this year, 2015, or so our new Alcadesa  stated. Not so it now seems as, in election year, one political party is saying it won’t support the project unless there is room to take cruise liners. Have we gone fill circle? I remember, years ago, viewing plans for such a grandiose scheme. Then the town lost out and funding went to Garachico and look what a rip roaring success their harbour has proved to be.

I just can’t support the school of thought that claims having a cruise ship in port is pivotal to the town’s regeneration, neither can I see the huge potential employment benefits that are being talked about. Realistically it would never be an overnight stop, so at best the ship would dock at breakfast time, and as I see it, more than half its passengers would jump on coaches and take in a whistle-stop tour of the island and the rest would avail themselves of the onboard facilities.

Those who do venture ashore, if only to get their land legs working, would soon find that Puerto, much as I love the town, has very little to offer. An hour to stroll around should be enough and then back aboard to make use of the bars and

restaurants where their food and drinks are already paid for. Then once the day trippers have been safely counted back on board, the ship would weigh anchor to spend the night at sea before calling in at its next port of call.

Then I ask myself, why would a cruise line choose to forsake, say Santa Cruz, with its much better facilities, in favour of Puerto? I can only think of one reason, financial, and do you think Puerto can complete with Santa Cruz on that score?  A passenger ferry to La Palma, cutting down on the journey time between the two islands may prove to be viable, but cruise liners calling into Puerto, do you honestly think it is ever going to happen?

Of course, this is all conjecture and speculation. A port of any size would be a least seven years in construction, probably ten or more with the almost inevitable delays. Holiday and leisure trends could change a great deal in that time. Let’s  not forget  this project is yet to get off the drawing board. Instead lets look at a far more modest project, almost insignificant in comparison, but one that is close to my heart being near to where I live and at least this one is underway.

The new footbridge across the barranco in the Guacimara Urbanisation epitomises everything that is wrong about local projects. For one, it is totally unnecessary; at best it is a recent kneejerk reaction to a problem which has been in existence ever since the area was developed.

The one road in and out cuts across the barranco and floods during heavy rain. The solution is to pipe the flood water under the road. The footbridge may well keep your feet dry but that is no consolation when you are trying to drive out to work in the morning. So the decision was taken, quite a long time ago, to bridge the gap, only about eight metres to span, so a simple little job, you would have thought. Fabricate the bridge off-site, crane in into place in one piece, or assemble it in situ if that proved to be easier, a few days at most, job done, bridge in use. Now I may be guilty of over simplification but what we have ended up with is definitely over elaboration.

I’ll be brief.  First we had the ack ack ack of the pneumatic hammer for at least two weeks as they removed all the rock in the barranco to a depth of two metres below the bridge span. Don’t ask why, if we had a torrent of water that deep comes rushing down the barranco we would all be in trouble. At most, when in flood, it is 60 centimetres deep. Then they constructed a pavement where there has never been one.  For health and safety reasons, no doubt, can’t possibly have the dozen or people who are ever going to use this bridge stepping off of it straight into the road. Whilst building this pavement they found they couldn’t sink the kerbstones deep enough, bedrock I suspect, still they carried on regardless leaving the pavement standing proud. No wheelchair access to the bridge then. No, wait they had a solution; they built the road up to compensate by laying additional tarmac to a depth of 15cms along a stretch of 50 metres. Anyway, to cut this story short a metal frame for the bridge was put in place and concrete was poured into it form the base, it isn’t level, but then I never expected it to be.

Now you might be thinking this is a lot of work and unnecessary expense to go to just for a simple foot-bridge and you would be right, but then you don’t know the budget for the job, it is a very hard to believe 73,599.99 euros.

 The project started at the beginning of November and since then there has been an announcement, to great fanfare and with the pre-requisite photo opportunity, that they are now going to sort out the road, and work the work needed will be a priority. Of course, the bridge isn’t finished, the builders downed tools about six weeks ago and haven’t been seen since. I don’t know the reason why, but it is almost certainly going to be financial.

Finally, just in case you are wondering what is happening to the new bus station, the one we were promised work would commence on in the autumn of 2013, it seems the latest excuse for the delay is due to bureaucratic red tape at central government, now that is a surprise. Did I say excuse; sorry it was a slip of the tongue, of course, what I meant to say is the reason for the delay.