The illusion and work of a lifetime can end up in rubble. Over the Vigo parish of Beade hovers the threat of a high-capacity runner that no one asked for, but that Abel Caballero does not want to give up. With just over 5,000 registered residents, but with a rural essence despite its proximity to the urban center of the largest city in Galicia, Beade has risen up against the almighty mayor for a road project, with two lanes in each direction, which would split the parish in two. And what is most worrying among its neighbors and those of the surrounding villages: the road would take away more than a dozen houses, some recently built and about to open.
The nightmare of PO-010 does not let Beade sleep, and the ‘Gallic village’ of the olive city rebels against its popular and peculiar mayor, unaccustomed to the answer citizen.
What happened to Beade is not simply the particular misfortune of one or several neighbors who have the misfortune to live in a house that has no choice but to tear it down, and inevitably expropriate, to build an infrastructure of general interest. It is not an inevitable and indispensable misfortune for the common good and progress; at least, that is how its neighbors consider it, on a war footing against the project. And, also, the opposition in bloc. In the case of the Vigo parish, there is a host of circumstances that have led the neighborhood – which has collected more than 3,000 signatures against the municipal government project – and the PP, Marea and BNG to shout to the sky: they cry against the socialist mayor for an “unnecessary” work, which also, in his opinion, was processed through the back door and intended secrecy.
The future road, just over three kilometers long, is conceived as a high-capacity branch that would connect the A-55 motorway (Vigo-Porriño), at Baruxáns, with Clara Campoamor Avenue, very close to the stadium de Balaídos and the Stellantis factory (the old Citroën). This road, although with a different layout, was part of an old Vigo ring road project that included the General Plan for Municipal Planning (PXOM) of 2008, which would end up overthrowing the Supreme Court. With the legal setback, that round concept ended up in oblivion. The small section that leads to the Balaídos industrial estate, however, although —as has been said— with a different layout, is now recovered by the new PXOM, which the PSdeG initially approved alone on August 26 —PP voted against, while BNG and Marea preferred to abstain.
A high-capacity road that neither neighbors nor the opposition miss: “It is unnecessary, it is a road that no one has asked for, that no one understands”, tells ABC José Alfonso Marnotes, spokesman for the popular group in the City Council. “An unjustified road”, which “threatens to cut off a very important part of the rural parishes” of Vigo, affects the same line Xabier Pérez Igrexas, mayor of the BNG. The councilor of En Marea, Rubén Pérez, does not see it as a necessary work either and regrets that a parish is “sacrificed” to favor, in his opinion, the needs of the old Citroën factory.
For the municipal government, however, it is about a “strategic action”, as defined by the councilor for urban planning, María José Caride, who has preferred to answer the questions of this newspaper through a written questionnaire. The mayor defends the new road to guarantee accessibility to the University of Vigo and the Cunqueiro Hospital, the main educational and health facilities in the metropolitan area.
Criticism of the processing
However, it is not only the suitability of the work that neighbors and the opposition criticize, but also the alleged obscurantism of its processing. The PXOM was approved in its initial proposal last August —in a telematic plenary session—, but those affected assure ABC that they did not find out about the municipal plans until the end of November. To questions from this newspaper, the councilor for urban planning argues that, since the draft was presented in April 2020 —in the midst of a state of alarm—, they met “on several occasions with neighborhood representatives”, with the intention of “listening to neighbors” and “answer their questions”.
Those affected by the work, however, did not find out until the end of November that there was a projected road that would pass over their houses. “Things went wrong here”, considers Ana Pascual, president of Avibe, the platform for those affected by the road. At the headquarters of the neighborhood association of the parish, he had exposed a plan of the future road, but, be that as it may, those affected had no news. Nobody told him. And for the members of this platform, not only was there a lack of transparency when making the project known, but also before, during its preparation: “The neighbors were not counted”.
Each victim has their own drama, but someone could suffer it multiplied. Brand new housing should always be a source of joy and satisfaction, but it will not be so in the case of Abel Mejuto. For this 57-year-old hotelier, who has lived in Beade for more than two decades, the tragedy of the expropriation would be multiplied by three. They had bought a piece of land on which they are building three chalets in line: one for his wife and himself, and the other two for two of their children; each one, with its respective mortgage. One of the houses, with the works already well advanced, is almost “ready to move into,” Abel explains to ABC. I was unaware that the shadow of expropriation was hovering over the project; Otherwise, it would not have occurred to him to buy and build. The City Council did not warn him of the plans for the future road when, between January and February 2021, the licenses were granted. At this point, Caride defends that the Council limited itself to complying with “current legislation.” The licenses —adds the mayor— “must be granted within their deadlines if the current planning is fulfilled.” “Only the initial approval -which, in this case, was not until August 2021-, as established by law, supposes the suspension of licenses”, justifies the socialist councilor to this newspaper.
The construction of the road, in any case, does not seem to be imminent, especially because the Xunta refuses to finance it —the City Council wanted it to assume 85.5 of the 98.7 million that this regional competition road would cost—. At this point, Caballero’s executive again resorts to the theory of the supposed contempt of the Xunta de Feijóo towards Vigo.
The refusal of the Galician government to assume the cost of the road, however, does not calm the local concern. They want me to disappear from PXOM, since this raises its construction to 18 years. They presented 3,000 arguments for final approval. And it is that, if they were collected in the PXOM, those affected would be almost two decades living with the risk that the project could materialize. Almost two decades in which, on the other hand, no one would buy land and houses threatened with possible expropriation. Many, moreover, would become rustic land, with its consequent loss of value. They believe that only media noise can save them. On Tuesday they concentrate, again, before the City Council.