After more than 30 years enduring traffic jams on the Northern Highway (TF-5), patience has run out among the more than 226,000 inhabitants of the 15 northern municipalities and also among the majority of their political representatives. EL DÍA spoke yesterday with northern mayors from PP, CC, NC, AISU, SSP and PSOE and they agree both on the weariness, after decades of waiting, and on the demand for urgent measures that, beyond large works, help to mitigate a problem that affects the quality of life, health and economy of thousands of people from Tenerife.
The vice president and councilor for Roads and Mobility of the Cabildo de Tenerife, Enrique Arriaga (Cs), acknowledged this Thursday that the two major actions that could have the most effect in reducing traffic jams on the TF-5, the La Laguna ring road and the third lane (Bus VAO) between La Orotava and Los Rodeos, will not be available “at least until 2028”. An expectation that the municipal representatives consider unacceptable for the most part, for which they demand complementary measures to mitigate the mobility problem that this part of the island has suffered since the beginning of the 90s of the 20th century. The determined promotion of public transport, the reduction of transfers to the metropolitan area, decentralization or the change of schedules in some administrations and entities are some of the proposals that are once again on the table.
The mayor of Buenavista del Norte, Antonio González (SSP), governs in the most remote municipality of the metropolitan area and recalls that the residents of the Isla Baja suffer a real obstacle course to be able to access such fundamental services as reference hospitals, the university or the airport. «People who live further from the capital suffer from the queues on the TF-5 but also an accumulation of problems along the entire route, with the difficulties of the section between Los Realejos and Icod, and on the TF-42, between Icod and Buenavista. The more kilometers you travel, the worse the situation is », he regrets. “They are working on the line of carrying out large works to alleviate through the tracks, but we have transferred that although, obviously we will wait for the tracks, another mobility model should also be worked on because it is unsustainable to wait for 2028 with the mobile fleet growing and without any other solution focused on collective transport»point.
The mayor of Garachico, José Heriberto González (CC), insists that «from Isla Baja we suffer all the problems of the TF-5 plus everything that happens from Los Realejos to here. They say that the new section of the insular ring between El Tanque and Santiago del Mount Teide the TF-5 is going to relieve more, but it is also going to increase the number of vehicles in the direction of Icod to connect with the South and, vice versa. I am concerned about what is going to happen at the Buen Paso roundabout (Icod) and in the section to Los Realejos, which should go together in time with that section of the ring because, if that roundabout and the section to San Vicente are already collapsed on Sunday afternoons, I don’t want to imagine what will happen next».
The Garachiquense president also does not believe that one should wait idly until 2028: “While other measures must be taken that have nothing to do with the roads, such as health decentralization towards a Northern Hospital that is finally equipped as it should.” What he is clear about is that “enduring 6 or 7 more years of queues without more actions being launched would not be acceptable.”
Enrique Arriaga (Cs) recognized this Thursday that the people of Tenerife will suffer from queues “at least until 2028”
226,000 people live in the 15 municipalities of the North
Francis González (CC), mayor of Icod de los Vinos, appreciates that Arriaga “is finally honest in recognizing that it was not true when they said that they knew how to solve the traffic problem and that they were going to fix it in this mandate.” And he considers that after assuming it, “the next step should be to resign.” For González, “if the North highway is collapsed, the Cabildo de Tenerife is aimless.”
In the opinion of the mayor of Icod, “the Erjos tunnel will become a reality thanks to the historic fight of Canary Coalition. However, I am extremely concerned that they have not been able to put a solution on the table to close the ring between Icod and Los Realejos, reconciling road safety and absolute respect for the environment.
The mayor of San Juan de la Rambla, Ezequiel Domínguez (PSOE), adds that «Insular mobility and, more specifically, that related to the North, needs an analysis and multisectoral measures that take into account the construction of new roads, but also the effective articulation of public transport and the sustainable economic development of the North». The socialist politician is committed to “a layout of the island ring between Icod and Los Realejos that respects our landscape and environment, taking into account the local orography.” And he insists on demanding “a definitive entrance and exit for both vehicles and pedestrians for the La Rambla neighborhood.”
The mayor of Los Realejos, Adolfo González (PP), stresses that “there is nothing positive to comment on the management of the Cabildo de Tenerife’s Roads area in this mandate, where nothing has been solved and we have been victims of a campaign against this municipality, first with the wall on the La Montaña highway and now with the closure of the El Patronato exit. Neither Arriaga nor the president of the Cabildo de Tenerife, Pedro Martín (PSOE), have been able to solve the problems of the TF-5, despite the fact that during the electoral campaign they promised that it would be their priority.
Francisco Linares, mayor of La Orotava and general secretary of CC in Tenerife, regrets that «the Cabildo in this mandate has not managed to mitigate the problem of queues on the TF-5. The socialist group championed a demagogic struggle against the previous government team led by Carlos Alonso, and promised all kinds of solutions. Now they give demagogic arguments to justify why they have done nothing at all. I continue to defend that you must act in some way now to prevent these desperate queues from being suffered every day.
“It is neither normal nor healthy for thousands of people to waste two hours every day sitting in their vehicles to travel to the capital, either to work or to carry out procedures. It is a trip that could be done perfectly in 25 minutes. Politicians and institutions, to the extent of our possibilities, have a moral and ethical obligation to act and to do something or, at least, try to do it”, emphasizes Linares. For the mayor of Villero, “a strong investment is necessary and actions are needed in the short and medium term to avoid this situation”, and he understands that one of the most viable solutions is “the creation of a third lane for the use of public transport between The Lagoon and La Orotava». In addition, he sees it as important that “the mayors be consulted to deal with mobility issues and the problem of queues on the TF-5. In such a bloody issue, which thousands of people from Tenerife suffer daily, we have to be more sensitive when dealing with it and look for practical solutions. And we have to know how to put aside political colors to defend, as they deserve, the neighbors of the North».
The mayor of Santa Úrsula, Juan Acosta (AISU), is skeptical of the measures and deadlines that are proposed: «We are at the same point as four years ago, nothing has been advanced on this matter. It seems to me that the large works and the third lane that are planned are insufficient and will be much more so between now and 2028. More asphalt is useless if we do not promote quality public transport. We must increase the frequency and incorporate new stops. For Acosta, “companies should also bet more on teleworking or the flexibility of entry and exit times. At the rate of population growth we will need much more than roads. A change of mentality is necessary and a commitment to sustainable mobility, which does not fill our territory with piche”.
Mariano Pérez (CC), mayor of El Sauzal, criticizes that “waiting until 2028 was not said three years ago, when they climbed the La Matanza bridge to promise solutions. Now they would have to get on the La Orotava bridge because the queues arrive there. It was all Carlos Alonso’s fault and we are as we are. It is clear that a third lane must be created and public transport must be promoted over private vehicles. You have to make decisions and bet once and for all on public transport, with a third rail (Bus VAO) or the Northern train. The rest is to keep waiting. Before it was 2024, now it is 2028 and then it will be 2032. We cannot continue with plans and projects or blame each other without doing anything.
José Daniel Díaz (NC), mayor of Tacoronte, is forceful in stating that “this is unacceptable. This week not only the TF-5 collapsed, but also all the interior roads of Tacoronte that are related to the highway. The solution for the ring road will continue to leave the tail of Los Naranjeros behind and continue without prioritizing the road that has been collapsed for several decades. They continue to make investments in the southern highway, which is projected and tendered at great speed, while here there is not even a project for a third rail. This is indecent and treats the neighbors of the North as second-class citizens. We have been told to wait many times and I think we have waited too long. Our patience has run out and now we only hear pre-election siren songs.