Leaving Madrid from the east of the City is easier as from today. At 12.00 O’clock the O’Donnell Tunnel was opened to traffic. An underground carriageway measuring 1,441m in length which starts in the Aguirre Schools, next to the Retiro Park and finishing just after Doctor Esquerdo. The tunnel allows the M-30 ring-road to connect up with the M-40 ring-road. The Town Hall estimates that around 30,000 vehicles will use this short cut to leave the city on a daily basis. Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón, the Mayor of Madrid, walked the length of the second longest urban tunnel in the city, where a bike lane has also been inaugurated.
Traffic light free. The motorists, who wish to leave the city from the center to the east of the capital, will be able to do so without meeting a traffic light in red from the Puerta de Alcala until the M-30 and M-40 ring-roads. This will also improve the link between the center and the Airport of Barajas and all this thanks to the 1.5Km long tunnel which has the peculiarity of being unusually high. That is to say, that the clearance height is 4.5m, which will allow the circulation of both buses and lorries. Technicians say that the new O’Donnell Tunnel will shorten travel time between the Retiro Park and the M-30 by some 61%, which is around 1,183 hours per day on average, and will be used by 30,000 vehicles daily. The execution of these works has cost approximately €31.5 million and has taken 18 months.
The City Mayor began his speech on inaugurating the O’Donnell Tunnel by saying "We are very happy as today we have reached a point of inflexion in the transformation of Madrid". Gallardón assured that this new tunnel is the main link in the remodeling of the M-30, although it is not an infrastructure related to the Project. The Mayor was backed up in this inauguration, the second of an important infrastructure this week, as on Monday the tunnel which links the M-30 and the A-3 Motorway, leaving Madrid, was opened, by all of his cabinet ministers: the Deputy Mayor, Manuel Cobo; the Town Councilor for Development, Pilar Martínez; The Councilor for the Tax Office, Juan Bravo, and even the Councilor for Employment, Ana Botella, turned up to walk the length of the tunnel both inside and out.
O’Donnell Street has also changed its physiognomy. From Wednesday, cyclists have a bike lane which is 2.0Km in length and runs along O’Donnell and Alcalde Sainz de Baranda Streets. In the future, this bike lane shall cross over the M-30 and will link up with the ‘Green Ring Bike Lane’. The changes in O’Donnell have also meant the construction of a gardened central reservation area. Likewise, the street also has a new access lane to the city for EMT buses, taxis and motorbikes.
The City Mayor walked the tunnel before opening it to traffic accompanied by a group of neighbors, who wanted to see the results after more than a year of upset and traffic problems. The Town Hall incorporated a claim from the neighbors: the extension by 133m of the initial stretch, to situate the tunnel entrance at the junction of O’Donnell Street with Alcala Street. The bike lane also arose from suggestion by local neighbors, which led to the modification of the initial stretch to the gardened central reservation.
Madrid. 05/04/2006. Cristina Expósito