Next year will be key for the Insular Ring. Although it will not be the end, nor is it approaching, it will mark an important milestone due to the actions that are projected by the General Directorate of Road Infrastructure of the Government of the Canary Islands and that are expected to be approved, drafted or put out to tender .
It was also 2020, with the beginning of the Erjos tunnel, a project that had been paralyzed for several years despite the fact that it was always and from all the political forces in the institutions considered essential to unite the North and South of Tenerife. Its reactivation was a before and after in the complex machinery of works that includes the Insular Ring that will facilitate mobility in Tenerife in general and in the different regions, and that little by little, they begin to take shape and take shape. However, there is still a long way to go – never better said – so that they can become a reality and citizens benefit from them.
There are many obstacles to overcome, important steps have been taken, according to the director of Road Infrastructure of the Government of the Canary Islands, José Luis Delgado, starting by drafting all the projects – since when he took office “there was not a single drafting” – and award the El Tanque-Santiago del Teide section that he, he says, “had launched in 2016.”
Since then, the department that he presides has “not stopped” doing projects to be able to put out to tender the works that are fundamental for the Island.
One of them is the La Laguna Beltway, whose route is currently in the drafting phase. “It is well advanced and geodetic surveys have already been carried out, that is, the type of land that exists and at the most, by the end of the year it will be released to public information,” Delgado says. From that moment, as in any work, the public may present allegations if they deem it appropriate. His “hope” is that next year it will be auctioned. “
“This work will go very fast because it does not affect traffic, it passes behind the Los Rodeos airport mostly in a tunnel so as not to affect the homes. If we get started next year, it won’t take less than four to run ”, he says.
Another necessary action is the one contemplated between Guamasa and Tenerife North Airport, to connect this last point with the Ring Road. It is a mandatory work that in the previous term was entrusted to the Cabildo de Tenerife and that will be carried out with money provided by the Government of the Canary Islands through the Canary Islands Development Fund (Fdecan). The objective is to put it out to tender this year since the drafting of the project “is also highly developed” and it already has an environmental report from the Island Corporation.
The connecting section between Los Rodeos Airport and TF-13 will be the future Rambla de La Laguna and will be shared with the City Council of the latter municipality. From Padre Anchieta to the TF-13 it will correspond to the Cabildo because the road that goes down from La Esperanza is insular and connects with the highway, while the section that goes from the Airport to Padre Anchieta will correspond to the City Council when the Government of the Canary Islands. declassify and become municipal ownership.
“From that moment on, it will be a municipal promenade or an avenue, nothing has to be connected, but it will be the City Council who decides what to do there,” Delgado clarifies.
Mesa Mota Tunnel
The CEO is also confident of being able to tender the Mesa Mota tunnel in 2022. Tenders are currently being opened for the award of the project, which will allow the Vía de Ronda to communicate with Tegueste without going through Las Canteras.
Regarding the metropolitan area, the section of Ofra Santa María del Mar would remain pending so that the TF-2 connects with the TF-1 with two descending lanes and connects directly with Santa María del Mar.
Towards the South of the Island, one of the sections that has generated the greatest expectation since its inception, in September 2020, is the one from El Tanque to Santiago del Teide, considered the most expensive public work in Spain (240,370,796 euros, fully financed by the central government). From the beginning, no one guaranteed that it would be simple because the terrain of the Teno Massif represents in itself a difficulty. There, a 5.1-kilometer tunnel is built at the height of Erjos (the longest in the Archipelago and one of the longest in Spain), awarded in November 2019 to the UTE formed by the companies FCC, El Silbo and Syocsa- Inarsa. Thirteen months after starting, the pace of the work is as expected.
The first kilometer in Erjos
“We are already working with the four mouths, two on the North side and two on the South side. The latter is more advanced and works at an average rate of 30 to 35 meters per week of drilling. Right now, between false tunnel and tunnel, it is calculated that before the end of the month the first kilometer of the first two mouths will be reached ”, he says.
In the case of the North side, the works are slower due to the bad conditions of the terrain (it is very clayey) and it has not reached 100 meters for each mouth, explains Delgado.
In the South, an environmental reform has also been designed between Santiago del Teide and Fonsalía. “At the moment the file is prepared to take out the specifications and tender what is called the second lane,” says the director, who at the same time underlines the speed with which the Chafiras Oroteanda link is executed, which “has picked up pace in the last months ”after the sentence that forced the performance to be halted. The idea is that by December 31st the Oroteanda link is working with the aim of “getting fully into the Chafiras link”, points out José Luis Delgado.
In the case of the third lane San Isidro-Chafiras and Oroteanda-Las Américas, the projects are being drawn up.
If we talk about projects, next year’s budget will include the drafting of the third lane from San Isidro to Güímar, which contemplates the solution to access the port of Granadilla and the port of Güímar, “which is currently not safe.” The latter has been a demand of the residents of this municipality but also, “to be able to build the third lane it is necessary to expand the tunnel that crosses from Güímar to the south,” says Delgado.
A very important project in this region is the one that runs from Los Cristianos to Adeje, with the aim of avoiding “the monstrous queues that users of this road suffer daily.” There a false tunnel is planned in which the city’s traffic will pass through the top and the one that goes to Los Cristianos, through the bottom. “It is similar to what was done in the Tres de Mayo tunnel. In this way, we do not occupy space or land and there are no environmental problems, ”says José Luis Delgado, who hopes that the work will be put out to tender next year since the preliminary project is completed.
Towards the North, specifically from Guamasa to La Orotava, the project contemplated to solve traffic problems is the VAO bus lane (for buses and high-occupancy vehicles) whose drafting has been awarded and on which work has begun. The idea is that before December the Government of the Canary Islands receives the project of the layout to be released to public information and submit it to the environmental impact study.
Delgado does not hide that this action is complex because to build a third lane one of the two existing lanes must be blocked in order to work. “It will be done at night, since at peak times it would add more chaos to the people of the North who go to work in the metropolitan area and therefore, they will not be able to go at a normal pace but very slowly,” he explains.
For this reason, in his opinion, before starting this action, it is essential to finish and put into service the Ring Road and the Erjos tunnel, since this will balance the island’s traffic and allow the TF-5 to be unloaded.
The section that runs from San Juan de la Rambla to Icod de los Vinos will be released to public information in a month and the purpose of the General Directorate is to tender it before next year so that construction can begin.
Only the Los Realejos- San Juan de la Rambla section would remain pending, the most complex and to which no government has dared to even propose an alternative until now because it affects the protected natural landscape of Campeches, Tigaiga and Ruiz and the Rambla de Castro.
“There has never been an ongoing infrastructure deployment simultaneously. The objective is that all these projects and works are started -at least in some of the phases- before the end of the mandate. I don’t know if we will succeed because we are talking about a volume of works that is unprecedented in Tenerife ”, emphasizes José Luis Delgado, for whom“ the pace of work is always slower than he would like ”.
The resources available to the general director “are scarce”, but they are compensated by the “great involvement of the engineers and jurists, with whom they are leaving their skin” so that the closure of the Insular Ring is once and for all a reality.
Nor does he hide that the department he directs encounters problems every day, “but it also dodges them” and that is important, he remarks.
A tunnel, a more viable solution to connect Los Realejos-San Juan de la Rambla
Los Realejos-San Juan de la Rambla is the only section of the Insular Ring that remains to be resolved because it is a planning issue “that must be approved and it is a long road”, admits José Luis Delgado.
What was agreed in the meeting that was held in July with the president of the Cabildo, Pedro Martín, and the two mayors of the affected municipalities, Manuel Domínguez and Jesús Ezequiel Domínguez, is that after the summer the general director of Infrastructure Viaria would let you know some alternatives that it has outlined.
“I would suggest that it be a tunnel with two lanes in each direction, but they have to decide that. I think that should be the solution to avoid damaging the natural landscape of Campeche, Tigaiga and Ruiz ”.
In his opinion, “you have to go inside the mountain, you cannot touch that protected area because otherwise, it will never leave. If you could make half a tunnel, half a false tunnel to preserve the views from the hillside, as the Martiánez tunnel is made, it would be the perfect solution ”.
In any case, all the alternatives must be analyzed to solve the difficulties of this section with special environmental sensitivity, which is why it has been stuck for 20 years. Delgado does not hide that the solutions that are proposed are complicated to execute and that is why a lot of consensus is required to find a solution and that this section does not suffer the same fate as the Erjos tunnel and lasts forever. On the contrary, the regional government hopes that it will become a reality as soon as possible.