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Following the period of urban renewal generated by the 1992 Olympics, Barcelona is now in the midst of a transformation that will profoundly affect its infrastructures and the quality of life of certain districts. The following pages offer a brief explanation of the major challenges that the city's inhabitants will see coming to fruition in the near future.

The Metropolitan Area
In the course of the past few months, Barcelona's mayor, Joan Clos, has repeatedly insisted on the need for a supramunicipal government to carry out the functions of Barcelona Metropolitan Corporation, which was disbanded in the 1980's. This body would have powers and responsibilities covering 32 municipalities and manage an area with over three million inhabitants. The model the city council would like to implement is the same as that recently introduced in London and which already functions in Boston. Joint management of this large area is seen as the best way to make the best use of many of the infrastructures and services for which the City Council is responsible and, more generally, to make Barcelona more competitive. (_)

The Metro
Although Barcelona currently has almost a hundred Metro stations, these are not enough to meet all of its inhabitants' travel and commuter needs. That is why a big boost is being given to expanding the network. For the first time, all the different government bodies involved are in agreement. The aim of the Metropolitan Transport Authority (ATM) is to double the number of stations. (_)

The Light Railway
A light railway - or tramway - is planned for Nou Barris running from Can Cuiàs through Ciutat Meridiana and Torre del Baró to Trinitat Nova, where it will link up with line 4 of the Metro. Work on this project, which will cost in the region of 5,000 million pesetas, has already begun. The new line will be almost two kilometres long and will be built in such a way as to allow it to be replaced by a conventional underground railway if that is regarded as appropriate in the future. (...)

High Speed Train
After six months of uncertainty, the Spanish Ministry of Public Works confirmed before the summer that the High Speed Train (HST) will reach Barcelona and the French border by 2004 as planned. The City Council has always argued that Sagrera should be the main HST station in Barcelona, as the Ministry has eventually agreed. This will be the interchange hub with the Metro and suburban train networks and a major bus station will also be built there. Agreement exists between the French and Spanish governments that the line from Lyon and Perpignan will cross the Pyrenees and be completed by 2004. (_)

The Airport
El Prat airport will have a third runway by 2003. The expansion will increase its capacity and the use made of the presently existing terminals. The City Council regards the go-ahead for the construction of the HST as an essential step before the airport can be enlarged.

The Port
Extension of the port towards the south was given a major boost in March when the Spanish Ministry for the environment approved the results of the relevant environmental impact study. The currently existing dock will be extended southwards for two kilometres, which will require the river to be diverted and the regeneration of a new beach. The new port will occupy about 1,300 hectares, almost twice the surface area it covers at the moment. (...)

Enlargement of the Fairground
The fairground, Fira de Barcelona, will be extended in Zona Franca in the direction of L'Hospitalet. The new fairground will be situated in the area between Carrer de l'Alumini, Carrer dels Alts Forns, Passeig de la Zona Franca and Carrer del Foc. The space, known as Montjuïc 2, will occupy an area of twenty hectares and include a 70,000 square metre covered fairground. Planning permission for the work will require modification of the general Metropolitan Plan. (_)

Barcelona is faced with the need to reorganise its municipal museums. At the present time, Barcelona City Council is responsible for running twenty-two museums, which received 3.4 million visitors last year, the same number as in 1996. Management of the museums in the future is likely to see less resources devoted to permanent collections and the smaller museums that attract fewer visitors and some of these may be closed to the public. On the other hand, more resources will be put into museums explaining the city's history from a social viewpoint, which are the ones that arouse the most interest among its inhabitants. (_)

Barcelona City Council's Libraries Plan for 1998-2010 has set a target of around 40 libraries by the end of that period. Of these, 12 will be district libraries, with a minimum floor area of 2,000 square metres each, while 28 will be neighbourhood libraries, occupying between 300 and 1,000 square metres. The plan was put forward by Barcelona City Council Institute of Culture (ICUB) and supported by the Diputació, or Provincial Council, which is responsible for stocking the libraries with books. The Plan's goal is to raise the level of book borrowing in Barcelona from the current rate of 0.3 volumes per inhabitant per year to 0.75, the figure recommended by the Association of Librarians and Documentalists of Catalonia. According to the Council's action plan, 3,745 million pesetas will be invested up to 2003. The aim is to have a stock of two million books in the municipal libraries and to reach the figure of five million consultations by 2010. (_)

By 2002, 90% of the fibre optic cable network will have been installed in Barcelona. Over four hundred kilometres of cable have already been laid over the past four years. Menta, the company responsible for cabling the entire city, is set to install a further 180 kilometres of cable in the next few years. (_)

Diagonal Mar
Seventy per cent of the 321 flats and apartments making up the first block in Diagonal Mar were snapped up in just four months. The complex, christened L'Illa del Llac (Lake Block), is being developed by the American real estate company Hines. L'Illa consists of one three-storey block of flats, two ten- and twelve-storey blocks and two twenty-two storey tower blocks. All together this new neighbourhood will have 1,600 flats. The first block of flats and the park - designed by the recently deceased architect Enric Miralles - will be finished by the end of 2001. The other flats will be ready for their occupants to move in by 2004. (_)

The project known as 22@ involves the refurbishment of more than a hundred blocks of buildings in Poblenou that had hitherto been dedicated to traditional industry. The aim of the plan is to foster the development of activities linked to new technologies in the city. To this end, every year some 190,000 square metres of land will be put up for sale, housing and offices will be built and encouragement will be given to the setting up of new technology-related businesses. (_)

City of Knowledge
Barcelona Council is promoting the city as a venue for activities and businesses to do with the new technologies, culture, science and knowledge in general. Development of this sector is considered essential for consolidating a key market in the new economy. The idea is to foster a different model from that of the information society. Unlike it, this option aims to have a city that uses information to gain knowledge, to be discerning and, if necessary, to employ a critical approach, with a view to achieving long-lasting, sustainable development. (_)

The Universal Forum of Cultures will be officially opened on St. George's Day, 23 April 2004, and brought to a close in September by the display of fireworks and music marking the end of La Mercè, the festivities in honour of Barcelona's patron saint. The organisers expect some six million people to visit the great exhibition. The event will focus on three main themes: cultural diversity, sustainability and the creation of the conditions for peace. Numerous debates will be held on particular subjects over a two-week period. (_)