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Local Daily News 14th November

The next airport: planes that enter and leave at the same time and baggage that goes through a CT scan

Security is at the epicentre of actions at the airport. Aena injects 56.3 million euros until 2026 in the Alicante-Elche aerodrome, an investment that will be allocated to eleven projects with the aim of increasing the safety of passengers, installation and flight operations.

Among the actions to be carried out, one that the company that manages the airport infrastructure considers basic: actions on the airfield and platform. In fact, the Miguel Hernández airport is on the “exclusive” list, along with five others in the country, of terminals included in what Aena considers strategic investments, as reflected in the Airport Regulation Document (DORA) 2022-2026.

The action on the airfield and platform has a small budget allocation for preparatory work this year, but it is an initiative that has not yet been put out to tender and is scheduled to start in 2025.

The work consists of splitting the internal taxiway of the aircraft parking platform located in front of the terminal building, in the part called the processor, and aims to optimise this space by allowing the movement of aircraft in two directions simultaneously. Currently, circulation is in one direction, airport sources explain.

This is an operation that many airports have and, although it was not planned in the initial configuration of the Alicante-Elche airport, it has subsequently been seen that it can be more agile.

This action was initially awarded in 2019 but the contract was terminated before starting the work since the successful bidder did not comply with the specifications of the file. For this reason, it has been included in the DORA to re-tender and award it.

The improvement of the security of people and installations takes a good pinch of the investments, with 7.6 million euros. The main action is the adaptation of the Alicante-Elche Miguel Hernández airport facilities to incorporate more advanced hold baggage security inspection equipment adapted to the regulatory changes established by the European Union in this area.

This action has been awarded for an amount of 10,439,000 euros to the company Cofely España SA and is currently being executed.

This is some important work, since the new inspection equipment that must be located within the facilities and integrated with the baggage handling system, the so-called EDS standard 3, are larger and heavier machines than the current ones, they point out. the same sources.

Simultaneously and as the work progresses, the current hold baggage security inspection equipment is being replaced by standard EDS 3 equipment, the order for which is included in a framework agreement for the acquisition of five years of 261 units for various airports. The amount allocated to the Alicante-Elche Miguel Hernández airport in relation to this equipment was 11,801,279.60 euros.

Standard EDS 3 machines offer greater detection capabilities, as they have Computed Tomography, an advanced technology similar to CT scans for medical use, which allows better inspection and makes the process more fluid.

The objective of the project is to optimise security processes by incorporating new technologies and inspection equipment at airports, in accordance with the new guidelines established by European regulations. This action began in the DORA 2017-2021 and will end in the current one.

Another of the actions has to do with the increase in operational safety. The main action of this section consists of the regeneration of the pavement on the airport taxiways (entrance and exit roads to the runway) and the adaptation of the runway strip in order to maintain the good condition of the airfield.

This action has been awarded for 9,483,726.54 euros to the company Ferrovial Construction SA and the execution period is 1 year and 11 months.

It is an action with a long period of time, on the one hand, due to the scope of the work, and on the other, because as it is a work on the airfield, it is undertaken in phases, mainly at night and in the winter season.

This work is expected to begin in the coming weeks and has been coordinated with the airlines and airport agents to make the work compatible with flight operations.

The main works of this project are the regeneration of the pavement in various taxiways and the levelling of slopes through excavation and filling works. Likewise, the work includes the construction of a new paved access road to the runway and improvements in the marking of various areas.

The Mediterranean Corridor: steady but slow progress

The constant progress in the development of the Mediterranean Corridor is undoubtedly a fact. But also, this process to ensure that Alicante, like the rest of the Valencian Community and also Murcia and eastern Andalusia, have a high-performance rail connection with Barcelona and the French border is being remarkably slow. It is evident that it is a project that, due to its enormous size and all its technical complexities, necessarily requires a long time to build, but its slow progress contrasts with the certain speed with which other projects have been completed in the meantime.

The announcement made last Thursday by the Secretary of State for Transport, Isabel Pardo de Vera, during her visit to the route around Font de la Figuera that trains will run on a single track between La Encina and Xàtiva for two years, from 2023 to 2025, is another proof of this progress that, without coming to a stop, does run at a considerably slower speed compared to what this corridor is expected to do when it is operational. It is understood that the time required to migrate from the Iberian gauge to the international gauge is the current layout, but in the meantime, users will foreseeably suffer the inconvenience with an increase in travel times.

Surely they will be only a few more minutes on the route, but perhaps they will leave a negative feeling in the travellers and that, probably, they will abound in what today is a fact: the trains today take a little longer to go from Alicante to Barcelona than 25 years ago, when the Euromed began to circulate. The start-up of this service in 1997 was a revolution for the Mediterranean Corridor, both in terms of the quality of the route and its aesthetics: the Valencian Community and Catalonia were linked by a train similar to the AVE. In fact, they were identical units, only adapted to circulate on Iberian gauge tracks.

The entry into service, in 1997, of long stretches in the provinces of Castellón and Tarragona, as well as between La Encina and Xàtiva, with a double track adapted to speeds of up to 220 kilometres per hour, made it possible to significantly shorten the duration of the journey. That, together with the fact that the Euromed stopped only in the provincial capitals, left the journey between Alicante and Barcelona in 4 hours and 38 minutes. The first morning train to the Catalan capital from the Alicante terminal in the autumn of 1997 left at 7:25 am; today it does so at the same time, but it arrives at its destination 14 minutes later than it did 25 years ago.

The elimination of the bottleneck that the section of single track from Vandellòs to Tarragona entailed, at the beginning of 2020, made it possible to return to similar travel times to those of 1997, and even cut them slightly with regard to the Barcelona-València connection. But the continuity from the capital of the Community to Alicante continues to be hampered by the single track from La Encina and, above all, by the lack of connection at the height of this same place with the Madrid-Alicante high-speed line, operational since 2013. This is precisely the operation that will be carried out between 2023 and 2025, and that will make it possible for the capital of the province and Valencia to be less than an hour away by train.

It will be, however, more than a decade after high speed has arrived in Alicante from the centre of Spain, one more proof of the palpable preference that radial connections have had when it comes to developing the network. In 1997, when the Euromed brought to the Mediterranean Corridor a very clear substitute for AVE, the only existing line was the one from Madrid to Seville, while 25 years later the radios originating in Madrid now extend, in addition to Alicante, to France to through Barcelona, to Valencia, Malaga, Granada, Ourense, León and Burgos, among other cities. Meanwhile, the works of the transverse axis to the east of the peninsula do not stop advancing, but much more slowly.

The municipalities of the province will pay €30 for each ton of unrecycled waste they generate

A new state tax is going to penalise the lack of recycling of the waste generated by the municipalities with a tax of 30 euros for each ton of waste that ends up in the landfill.

The objective is that once and for all they invest in separating and recycling at source, which is already a legal obligation, so that the volume of garbage to be buried -and its environmental impact both in gas emissions and leachate generation, as well as in the need to occupy the territory – is lowered in a very substantial way.

The General Directorate of Environmental Quality of the Ministry for Ecological Transition has informed the regional waste consortiums that the municipalities will be responsible for directly supporting this tax with their budgets. This newly created rate is regulated in state law 7/2022 on Waste, in force since last April.

The tax rate is set at 30 euros per ton for municipal waste that ends up in treatment and disposal plants – authorised landfills.

The purpose of the tax is to promote prevention, preparation for reuse and recycling of waste, with the organic fraction as preferred. The measure is also aimed at environmental education with “the aim of discouraging the deposit of waste in landfills.” The more unrecycled garbage that is generated, the more you will pay.

Although it is still an issue that remains to be finalised, the invoicing of the tax will be carried out by the treatment plants and the authorised landfills directly to the municipalities.

With the proceeds, estimated at around 30 million throughout the Community annually, a regional fund will be set up to finance some thirty actions linked precisely to the implementation of recycling, separation and zero waste generation policies in cities and community villages.

The disbursement must be foreseen by the municipalities in their budget project for next year, or in a budget modification of the extended accounts. Many, however, are not going to risk validating budgets that will necessarily have to be austere. They will leave it for after the municipal ones.

As an example, the adoption of this measure will oblige, according to forecasts, municipalities such as Elche to disburse one million euros during the year 2023. In the case of the 27 municipalities of Vega Baja, the forecast is that they contribute 2,643,341 euros during 2023 While in the case of Alicante city that figure could reach two million euros.

The City Council of Torrevieja -that is, its neighbours- is the one that will have to scratch its pocket the most to enter 714,000 euros per year because the province’s landfills have to treat 71,000 tons of their garbage per year. It is also the only municipality that has no choice but to distribute its waste among all the plants that are available in the province: Alicante, Villena, Elche and Xixona, despite being facilities that are already at the edge of their capacity. It is closely followed by Orihuela with 607,000 euros and 67,000 tons of waste transported in trucks to landfills.

This new tax is added to the cost of disposal and transportation from the Dolores transfer plant to the various landfills. For the municipalities of Vega Baja, the latter is 75 euros per ton, to which must be added the current cost of the urban collection and cleaning service in each of the towns, which is mostly awarded to an external company. , with the exception of the municipal services of Orihuela and Guardamar. Torrevieja spends 25 million a year on its contracts.

In a communication notified to each of the 27 municipalities of Vega Baja -and that none have made public-, the regional Consortium explains that in the last year, from July 2021 to July 2022, Vega Baja has generated 190,963 tons of waste.

In times of recycling, recovery and circular economy, more than 88,100 tons have ended up in landfills, where a small part is used in the screening of selective belts and other processes such as aluminium and other materials, and the rest ends up buried and stacked in huge pouring glasses. Thus, municipalities still have to resort to conventional landfills to dispose of 46% of the garbage they generate.

The Ministry of Transport will leave the links of the A-70 in Alicante illuminated due to its traffic and accident rate

The Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda will light up the links of the A-70 motorway in the surroundings of Alicante, taking into account the high traffic and accident rate of this section. It is the most saturated route of the state road network in the province and also one of the most conflictive, a factor that is largely a consequence of the previous one. For this reason, since it meets the criteria set by the Ministry for lighting, the points of light will be maintained in places such as the Mercalicante interchanges (with the A-31), the University (including the roundabout with the A-77 ), Villafranqueza and Vistahermosa.

The Government has recently announced the Energy Efficiency Strategy of the State Highway Network, through which it intends to reduce electricity consumption by 50%. In addition, it wants to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Much of this expense corresponds to the lights installed along roads, highways and motorways throughout Spain that are owned by the Ministry. For this reason, actions are planned such as the replacement of sodium vapour lights with other LED types, as well as the production of energy through the installation of solar panels, among others.

The plan has a development forecast of six years and contemplates an investment of 510 million euros. The Ministry defends that the replacement of the lights alone will mean a saving of between 30 and 40%, and that 70% can be reached if actions such as the implementation of intelligent lighting management systems are implemented, which allow regulate it depending on the presence or not of vehicles or other users. Of course, the lighting of a road is only contemplated in very specific situations.

In its new planning, the Government maintains the existing criteria so that a specific section or point of the state road network is illuminated, which explains why the links of the A-70 in the surroundings of Alicante have light, but not the layout of the highway itself between each of these accesses. On motorways and dual carriageways, the installation of lights is contemplated in sections with traffic exceeding 80,000 vehicles per day, provided that both sides of the road run on urban land. Also, in the case of intersections and roundabouts, those points with a significant accident rate or when the circumstances so advise will be illuminated.

The links of the A-70 meet the criteria of being trouble spots due to their accident rate. As this newspaper published a few weeks ago, both the roundabout located next to the University of Alicante and the junction with the motorway heading towards Alcoy are signposted as accident concentration sections; more specifically, the arrival lanes at both roundabouts via the A-77a and A-77. In addition, these are places of affluence with a lot of traffic, which justifies the powerful light points installed in the roundabouts and the lampposts at their entrances.

To this is added the accident rate of other nearby links, such as Mercalicante, where in 2020 six accidents with victims were registered, according to data from the Ministry itself; here, the already complicated circumstance of the junction of two highways with a lot of traffic such as the A-70 and the A-31 are joined by the characteristics of the junction, with very short exit and incorporation lanes and very tight curves. Also the environment of the Vistahermosa link, north of Alicante, added 12 accidents with victims in 2020, between kilometres 6 and 7 of the highway. All the more reason for both to be illuminated, just like the one in Villafranqueza.

However, it is striking that the trunk of the highway in this area is not illuminated. There are street lights, but they are always off. The traffic density would justify its switching on: the average intensity at kilometre 15, halfway between the A-77 and A-31 junctions, was 90,938 vehicles per day in 2019, with peaks above 100,000 in summer, and in 2020 it stood at 70,339, even despite all the restrictions on mobility imposed by the pandemic. However, the highway runs outside the city and, therefore, on urban land.

Thus, faithfully following the Ministry’s criteria, the streetlights on that section of the A-70 should be kept off. However, there are also exceptional factors at this point, such as those cited by the state agency itself, to consider the possibility of turning them on, as it is a road that is almost permanently saturated during working hours, and that in times of low natural light , like right now, this congestion also occurs at night. It is usual, in this sense, that there are traffic jams around 8:00 p.m., and in the absence of light, visibility is reduced.

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