Mercedes Garrido, councillor for land and infrastructure at the Council of Majorca, believes that any car-parking issues in Soller that are caused by making the tunnel road toll-free can be ironed out.
There are worries that Soller will be unable to cope with an "avalanche" of vehicles. Garrido, while recognising that Soller does have parking problems, notes that other places in the Tramuntana - Banyalbufar, Deya, Pollensa, for example - also have problems. Moreover, there are certain spots in Majorca which aren't in the mountains and have issues with parking, e.g. Es Trenc and Ses Casetes des Capellans in Playa de Muro.
Parking should not be a reason for not going ahead with doing away with the toll, argues Garrido. "There is a need above that of car parks, which are a municipal responsibility and will require action in the future. We are clear that an alluvium of cars is not a fundamental issue for the project. Proof of this is that in August there were around 14,000 vehicles on one day because of the high number of rented cars; yet there was no chaos in Soller."
She accepts that there may well be an initial increase in traffic because of the "tunnel effect" but suggests that this will be short-lived. She also stresses the fact that when the weather is bad, as it has been over the past few days, it is important that there is free access to the tunnel; driving up the Coll can be dangerous, and so safety should come first.
As far as parking problems elsewhere are concerned, Garrido says that there need to be solutions which involve parking away from "saturated" areas and the use of shuttle buses.
On what it is exactly going to cost the Council of Majorca to end the toll system, this isn't yet clear. The amount is believed to be around 18 million euros, under half of what the concessionaire for the toll contract has been looking for.
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