Blanco visits Almeria to oversee AVE work

Minister of State for Development José Blanco (known to his friends as ¡Peeepe!) together with an assortment of VIP’s and hanger-on’s, visited Almería yesterday to oversee the switching on of the tunnelling machine that is building the 7,5km tunnel from Sorbas to Barranco de los Gafarillos. The tunnel will be the longest in Andalucia once finished, and in the top 5 nationally.

Rumours that they had to ask the Ministry of Defense to locate Almería for them on a map are, I am assured, unfounded.

The tunnel is 7,5 km long, costs 251 million (and a few cents), and Europe’s largest tunnelling machine is making the hole. Special protection measures are being taken to locate and remove tortoises in the works area, according to the Ministry (ie, two moros have been told to take a walk under the blazing sun and pick up any they spot), and special care is being taken to not penetrate or disturb any natural aquifers in the area. (

The fact that the ADIF, the railways infrastructure company building the line, has asked for (and received) special dispensation to pour all water into the local Rio Aguas with no environmental checks was not mentioned.

Meanwhile, the AVE line past Los Gallardos remains paralysed while arqueologists pour over what little remains of Cadima, the Roman Villa that was there.

Pepe used his visit to assure locals that the AVE line will be completed on time, and announced in Sorbas that his ministry will be shifting its attention away from roads to completing the railways. “We have finished with motorways” he said. “We are building trains now and our train projects are guaranteed”. The A7 motorway project is likely to be cut back, and no news on the Almanzora project. (El País)

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