THE number of people using the Soller tunnel rose by nearly seven percent last year. This increase was attributed to the fact that Soller Valley residents no longer have to pay the toll. Some 4'000 residents of Soller and Fornalutx have requested the subsidies which the Balearic government has been paying out since January 1 last year.
Jordi Ferrer, the manager of the tunnel, said that prior to 2003, people would put their names down on the Soller census just to obtain the discount, and now that it is free more and more people are doing so. His point is proved by the fact that the number of non-residents using the tunnel has barely risen by one percent.
According to company sources, 57 percent of the tunnel users are residents of Soller.
The same sources said that traffic rose by four percent last year, compared to 2002, the year in which figures dropped for the first time since the tunnel was opened in 1997. Last year, the average density of traffic was 6'743 vehicles a day, 6.28 percent of them heavy vehicles.
Ferrer said that traffic was a little better, but nothing spectacular. Given the geographical situation of the tunnel, with only one destination, it is unlikely that there will be either substantial increases or serious decreases. Among plans for this year are improvements to safety in the tunnel.
The Council of Majorca is expected to give the green light on January 26 to an agreement under which the improvements can start. Work will be paid for by the Council of Majorca. The tunnel has cut the travelling time between Palma and Soller, and drivers no longer have to use the mountain road, with its dangerous hairpin bends.
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