After almost five years of construction, traffic jams, damage to businesses and on-off work the new tunnel under San Pedro de Alcantara will finally open on Tuesday June 26th at 5:15pm.
This date has been confirmed today by Marbella councillor Jose Luis Hernandez who said the tunnel will be opened to the public by Ana Pastor, the Minister For Public Works.
The tunnel has been marred by controversy over non-payment of workers, damage caused to local businesses and long delays in completion but is now ready to open and will, some claim, revitalise San Pedro town centre which has seen falling retail sales and visitor numbers while construction has been in progress.
One restaurant owner told me they lost almost 50% of their customers overnight.
“The problem at the Estepona end is worse than at the San Pedro end. Guadalmina commercial centre is almost inaccessible at the moment. People coming from Estepona direction have to drive a few miles past to the nearest ‘cambio de sentido’ and many simply carry on into San Pedro,” one Guadalmina business owner told me.
“The day the road was blocked off we lost 50% of our business and it hasn’t come back. So for the last 5 years we’ve been struggling to stay afloat. Hopefully this will change once the tunnel opens.” he added.
So next Tuesday – new tunnel, new San Pedro? No, nothing above ground has changed. It’s a mess with little to attract people. I think there is a possibility that rather than helping the town the new tunnel may be the death of San Pedro. Although it is a nice little place there isn’t really anything to do there. The town now has a bypass and people will do just that – bypass it. San Pedro needs a carrot to get people back there. A new tunnel that says “Look, now it’s easier to bypass San Pedro” is probably not the best idea!
UPDATE: San Pedro tunnel is OPEN!