THE Soller toll tunnel, through which nearly 8'000 vehicles pass every day, celebrated its 10th anniversary yesterday.
Reviewing the years in which the tunnel has been open, the political parties on the council disagree about the influence which this tunnel has had on the town.

However, they all agree that it has been a big step forward in the communication with other towns on Majorca.
With regard to the influence the tunnel has had on the town, the Mayor, Carles Simarro (Partido Popular), said that “very few of the works done in the history of Soller have had such an impact as the tunnel. Before the tunnel was opened, the young people didn't stay in the town. Soller has lost a bit of its personality, but it has recovered the energy which made it into one of the most active and beautiful towns on Majorca”.

A very different opinion comes from the UM (Majorcan Nationalists) councillor, Antoni Arbona, who recalled that the UM had supported the building of the tunnel “as the only option possible at that time”. Nevertheless, he said that the party had said then that the tunnel “should not influence our town planning and quality of life. But now these two things are in danger, because the Government's Planning department has failed to stop the building chaos”.

Bartomeu Pomar, from UNISO (a local opposition party) has been demanding for the past ten years that the tunnel be free. “The fears that people would flood into the town and there would be an excessive growth in the population have not been realised”, he said.

Miquel Gual of Entesa admitted that “we were against it, not because it would provide better access to the town, but because it would give rise to a lot of speculation in the town, and time has proved us right”. In his opinion, the effect of the tunnel has been to cause all the building land available to be taken up through chaotic building programmes”. He added that he thought that the tunnel “has made it more difficult for the residents of Soller to buy houses because of the elevated price of land”. He admitted that “it has saved lives” but also said that “it has caused those who live in Soller to lose their quality of life”.

Josep Luis Colom, of the Spanish Socialist party, agrees that the tunnel has caused the price of land and housing to rise. With regard to the economic effect he thinks that the tunnel has improved business, but this improvement has been “counteracted” by the fact that it is now easy for the residents to go out of the town to shop. Also the growth of the town has made some services more necessary, doctors, car parks, schools etc. Colom ended by appealing for the tunnel to be made free.

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