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by Joan Ariza

The diversion of the lower reach of Llobregat River, between the Mercabarna bridge and the sea, two kilometres to the south, is an essential precondition for one of the most ambitious projects in the Delta Plan, i.e. enlargement of Barcelona’s Port to make suitable for logistics activities and cargo distribution. The plan for construction of the new port facilities calls for investment of Pta150 billion. While the Port will not gain any new industrial land with the diversion of the river, the inflammable liquids dock is to be expanded, with an approved budget of Pta3,391 million. The dock will be extended and 81 hectares will be reclaimed from the sea. Work has also begun on opening a second mouth to the port, helping to create a new mooring basin for fishing vessels. This mouth is being opened between the Adossat and Llevant docks (at the beginning of Escullera, next to the Barceloneta Swim Club’s facilities). This new entry will allow cargo traffic to be segregated from passenger and recreational traffic, giving the latter a direct exit to the sea and shortening their sailing times. It is important to bear in mind that the number cruise ships calling at Barcelona has grown by 16% since last year. 1997 also saw a 3.7% growth of cargo traffic, curiously enough, in a year when there was a 3.7% drop in this traffic through the rest of the country’s ports. The number of vehicles moving through the port has also skyrocketed to 490,000 units, making Barcelona Europe’s leading port in these terms. As forecasts for the Port’s activities include further increases in passenger cruise traffic, the two passenger terminals planned for the World Trade Centre will be expanded. (...) The new riverbed will run between two earthen retaining walls, meant to ensure control of flooding -when the flow can reach levels of up to 4,000 cubic metres per second- and carry this water to the sea, and also to use a portion to replenish the water table and natural wetlands. The river will be between 170 and 300 metres wide. (...) The old wells in the area will be filled in to prevent them from overflowing and contaminating the nature reserves when the zone is flooded. Along with the creation of two new lagoons, the plan calls for planting of woodlands along the riverbanks. (...) For its part, the Viladecans Town Council has drafted a plan, under the name Delta Park, to organise 500 hectares of sea front: 110 hectares for the Remolar-Filipines nature reserve, 110 hectares for Reguerons and 30 more for Murtra. There will be 130-hectare buffer zone to protect the nature reserves in the Sant Climent arroyo. The coastal area takes in 60 hectares. The Park is completed by two new facilities in Filipines Sud and a controversial 55-hectare golf course. The “South Leg” and the Llobregat Highway by Joan Ariza. Journalist. The so-called “south leg”, the extension of the Ronda de Dalt ring road as far as the airport, with its connections to other traffic arteries, was left out of the group of infrastructure projects and investments carried out in preparation for the Olympic Games. (...) The new highway starts at the Llobregat interchange, which has also been subjected to substantial renovation, in order to improve connections between the highway and the Ronda Litoral and Ronda de Dalt ring roads. It continues towards the A-16 motorway after an urban stretch through El Prat. Its final design will be similar to that of the Ronda de Dalt in its stretches through urban areas of Barcelona, with service roads on either side to provide access to neighbouring farm lands. After crossing the A-16, the highway rejoins the Castelldefels highway and finishes at the airport. (...) This new highway is the result of the decision not to prolong the Lower Llobregat highway along the right bank of the river, and therefore extend the Ronda Litoral, widened with the addition of two lanes in either direction, as far as the Morrot or Port. The highway will cost Pta2.1 billion and no date has yet been set for its completion, although the Ministry of Economic Development has stated that it would like to see it in service by 2000. It will be the third way into Barcelona. (...) This minor dual carriageway is crucial for decongestion of the overcrowded western exits from Barcelona. The central government emphasises the considerable improvement provided by the connection through this artery with the Lleida highway, and the service that it will provide to the municipalities lying along the Llobregat River. Above all, it will be an alternative to the overcrowded N-II.(...)