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EuropeMadrid Mayor defines the new Plaza de España as a space that...

Madrid Mayor defines the new Plaza de España as a space that “belongs to all the people of Madrid”

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Juan Sanchez Gil
Juan Sanchez Gil
Juan Sanchez Gil - at The European Times News - Mostly in the back lines. Reporting on corporate, social and governmental ethics issues in Europe and internationally, with emphasis on fundamental rights. Also giving voice to those not being listened to by the general media.

The area recovers normalised mobility with the reopening of the square and the opening of the tunnel that crosses the Bailén-Ferraz axis.

  • The renovation gives rise to a greener, more sustainable and accessible environment that integrates all modes of mobility
  • The major transformation has been made possible by moving traffic to the lower level and gaining that surface space for pedestrians.
  • The new square connects valuable spaces that were previously segregated from each other, such as the Temple of Debod, the Sabatini Gardens, the Casa de Campo and Madrid Río.
  • The square emerges as a new tourist attraction for the city and an important cultural focus thanks to the integration of the archaeological remains found during the construction work.

The Mayor of Madrid, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, this morning toured the new Plaza de España and its surroundings after the reopening of this emblematic space two and a half years after its renovation work began, which has involved an investment of 74.4 million euros in what is, together with Madrid Río, one of the main transformations of the city in this century. Mobility in the area is now back to normal, both on the surface and in the tunnel, which has also been reopened to traffic after its enlargement. Along with the mayor, the visit was attended by the deputy mayor, Begoña Villacís; the delegate for Works and Equipment, Paloma García Romero, and several members of the municipal government and representatives of the municipal groups, as well as residents, businesses, hotels and schools in the area.

During the visit, Almeida defined the new Plaza de España as a space that “belongs to all the people of Madrid”. The mayor pointed out that “Madrid has been built through successive generations of Madrilenians, who have been accompanied by successive governments”, something which, he explained, is a sign of institutional continuity, “of the capacity of Madrid’s governments, regardless of their ideological leanings, to carry out and continue with projects that are good for the city”.

In this sense, Almeida highlighted the joint effort of society and the City Council to carry out urban actions that improve the quality of life for everyone, with public spaces such as the renovated Plaza de España, which will allow us to continue designing and enjoying a 21st century city, with the quality of life and wellbeing that citizens demand. Furthermore, as the mayor explained, this renovation allows mobility to be made compatible with the improvement of the pedestrian public space through the connection with the major axes of Madrid.

“We have the capacity to lead great urban transformations and in Plaza de España we have demonstrated this”, said Almeida, who reiterated that this action “should fill us all with pride, because it belongs to the city of Madrid, because it enhances this city and honours the motto that Madrid is the best city to live in and the best city to come to”.

In the absence of some finishing touches, which will continue to be carried out in specific areas of a project of this magnitude and complexity, with this opening, the City Council wants to prioritise the return to normal mobility in this area, as well as the end of the inconvenience for the residents. In addition, with Christmas approaching, the opening will be an important boost for commerce, restaurants and hotels in the area.

The pedestrian becomes the protagonist

The new Plaza de España, which is set to become a new tourist hub for the city, will create a greener, more sustainable and accessible environment that will change the appearance of the centre of the capital, a space of more than 70,000 m2 that integrates all modes of mobility, but which gives priority to pedestrians. In this sense, one of the fundamental objectives of the reform has been the pedestrianisation of the Bailén-Ferraz axis to materialise the connection between the valuable public spaces in this area, which until now had been segregated.

In this way, the underground infrastructures created not only allow pedestrian and cyclist permeability from Plaza de Oriente to Plaza de España and the Temple of Debod, but also the connection with the Sabatini Gardens, Campo del Moro and even Madrid Río. The new square thus becomes the green gateway to a transversal mesh that comes from the Manzanares River and establishes a point of environmental penetration towards the city centre. An environmental quality that is further enhanced by the planting of more than 1,100 new trees.

A transforming tunnel

The great transformation of this space has been possible thanks to the channelling of road traffic through a tunnel that allows traffic to be transferred to the lower level of the flyover built in the 1960s and to gain surface space for pedestrians.

The tunnel resulting from the renovation connects the road traffic from Calle Bailén to Calle Ferraz. The new part of this tunnel is a continuation of the existing one and runs from the start of the Sabatini gardens, on Calle Bailén, to Calle Ferraz, beyond Ventura Rodríguez. The union of both tunnels generates an underground infrastructure of more than 1,150 metres from its entrance in Bailén, at the height of Calle Mayor, to the Ferraz exit. It also has a connection with the San Vicente slope, which makes it possible to go both to the M-30 and to Gran Vía.

Cycling mobility

The improvement of cycling mobility is another of the main axes of the new space, as it connects the north-south and east-west axes of the area in a segregated manner. The segregated cycle path, which runs through an area to which private vehicles have no access, connects Calle Ferraz with Calle Bailén, linking the cycle lanes of Calle San Quintín with those of Calle Ferraz and Paseo del Pintor Rosales. For its part, the other east-west cycle axis connects the San Vicente slope with the Gran Vía via a segregated lane that runs alongside the road under the pedestrian platform.

This configuration turns the Plaza de España into a connector of cycling networks capable of linking itineraries that until now have been disconnected. In this way, no movement is deprived of the possibility of being covered by bicycle. In total, more than three kilometres of cycle paths have been implemented on roads and almost 400 metres of cycle paths on car-free spaces.

An accessible square into which archaeological discoveries have been integrated

Until now, the square lacked measures to enable the safe movement of people with reduced mobility or vision, cognitive impairment or any other disability or difference. In this sense, it was an obsolete space. The new Plaza de España, however, has the necessary conditions to guarantee its full use by all types of people, regardless of their abilities.

In addition, the project will integrate most of the archaeological remains found during the excavations for the construction of the Bailén-Ferraz tunnel, such as the two floors of the Palacio de Godoy and the buttresses of the old Royal Stables next to the current Sabatini Gardens, as well as the remains of the ‘patrol path’ of the old San Gil barracks. These remains can not only be visited by citizens and scholars, but also an archaeological itinerary will be implemented and an interpretation centre of the monumental cornice will be built to explain and help to understand the evolution of the city very close to the place of its birth.

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