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Ten years on, work starts on bus station but what happens next? 

PAGE 21 puerto point of  view

Work on the new bus station in Puerto de la Cruz has finally started, although if it wasn’t for the security fence surrounding the site you wouldn’t really know it, progress so far has been painfully slow. They never seem to have that get up and go attitude with project launches here, the same project in the UK would, I’m sure, have seen heavy machinery and hi-viz’s everywhere and the site would have been cleared in a couple of days. Here they prefer the laid back approach; all I’ve noticed to date on site are three men and a chainsaw. Almost two weeks at the time of writing this and they are still cutting down the trees.

Still start they have and all the doubters have had to change their tune.No longer will you hear, ‘I’ll believe it when it happens’, but already I’ve heard it replaced by ‘It took them long enough’ and I’m sure it won’t be long before we get ‘when is it going to be finished’. All of them are valid comments. It is hard to believe it has taken almost 10 years, since the old bus station closed, to reach this point. I don’t think we Brits will ever quite fully comprehend the intricacies involved in negotiating the minefields of the red tape that makes up Spanish bu-reaucracy, nor the amount of time it takes to do so.

The first ‘major’ project to take place in the town for a number of years, but is it really a major project? I suspect people are expecting something far more gran-diose than what is actually planned; I hope they won’t be too disappointed with the outcome. 10 bus stands, with parking for 10 more buses opposite, a few passenger amenities, ticket office, some loos, I hope, and of course, the prerequisite cafe/bar and  that’s about the size of it. I am sure it all looked very good on the plans, but am I the only one who thinks the site looks a bit cramped, still should be fun to watch 10 buses manoeuvring at the same time.

They have 12 months to build it if they are to finish on time. There is always a first time I suppose, but it is an important deadline, politically, at least.It is scheduled for completion just before the next local elections in May 2019. I am sure representatives of all the political parties, both locally and nationally will be rubbing shoulders at the opening ceremony, all claiming some credit for the project on their election manifestos, but what if it isn’t finished on time? It will not matter, I am sure  the ceremony will still going ahead, such an important and timely photo opportunity will not want to be missed.Of course, it will be finished, and I look forward to witnessing the frenzied activity on the site throughout the next year.

Just think though, once the new bus station has opened the road the buses currently occupy will be able to revert to its former use and the bottle neck of traffic they have caused should hopefully disappear. However, for anyone who remembers the street before the buses moved in, cars were often parked two and three deep along its length. Hang on a moment  I have just had a horrible  thought, what if the white line gang moves in and the road becomes yet  another example of the town’s fascination with the  ‘reverse herringbone’ parking system. If so, you can kiss goodbye to free flowing traffic, ask anyone who drives in Puerto regularly and they will know how long you have to wait while someone is trying to reverse into a parking space set at an angle. It is a lot harder than it looks, apparently, for some people, at least.

In choosing to build the new bus station on a new site it strikes me that the powers to be have tried to pull a fast one. It was always going to be the ‘easy’ option, although on reflection, the time it has taken makes one begin to think considerably less so. For me their actions have been an obvious manoeuvre to sidestep what was always going to be the bigger problem, i.e. what is going to happen with the old bus station. The emphasis has been so much on the new build that the real project has been shunted into a corner. 10 years to wait for the construction of the new bus station, how many more years until we see the demolition of the old one.

However, this problem, like so much in the town, is an inherited one. The previous administration chose to hide the old building by covering it in advertising hoardings, €36,000 worth of them.  Not such a stupid idea on the face of it, plus some extra revenue for the town from the advertisers.  If only, no in their infinite wisdom they chose to cover the building in adverts of the town. Here you are, standing in the middle of Puerto de la Cruz, now look how good it is!! Then to add insult to injury, the hoardings didn’t measure up to their purpose, in as much as they didn’t quite cover the facade. So instead of hiding the eyesore as intended, they com-pounded the problem by drawing your attention to it. A situation which they said was to be remedied, like so much else, it never was. Still that is all water under the bridge, time to move on.

What is to happen to the old bus station then, a decade on there must surely be something  planned  and the preparations must be well advanced, with all the relevant permissions  applied for and received.  It is not as if there can be any doubt of ownership, the problem which plagued the new site. They said when the announced the new bus station that this was to be a separate project, how convenient, as it is now obvious that this one is well and truly on the back burner  with the project file  sitting gathering dust right at the bottom of the ‘pending projects’ pile. Don’t wait with baited breath for anything to happen in the near future.

Is there anything planned for the site? I am not sure there is or else they would have been shouting about it. There has been talk over the years of a multi-storey car park, of a new National Police Station, even a suggestion of a well-known department store occupying the site. Whatever happens, it is almost certain to need private investment and that is not easy to attract to Puerto de la Cruz, judging by the unsuccessful search for a leaseholder for the Hotel Taoro. I think the problem with the former Casino site is the right deal hasn’t been put on the table yet, at present the odds are too stacked in favour of Cabildo.

So with the bus station in progress it is effectively removed from my ‘whinge list’, although saying that I am sure there will be still be plenty of  opportunity for constructive criticism as the construction evolves, but perhaps I should concentrate my efforts elsewhere . What else is there? Let’s see,  the new Muelle, the Municipal pool,  Hotel Taoro, Parque San Francisco, Playa Martiánez, and that’s just the major projects,  don’t get me started on the lesser one’s . Still plenty to keep me occupied, without even mentioning how the to