It is a wet dull day in a usually “Sunny Spain”, I thought I would take the opportunity to share my memories of holidays, of which I am regularly reminded. 30 years ago we often travelled to Mediterranean destinations, including mainland Spain; we would hire a car for 3 days and would set off into the countryside, looking out for places of historical interest. The N-340 is a road from Barcelona to Cádiz (Click here for more information) linking the major cities on the Mediterranean coast and a vital trade route from Africa across the sea and for transporting goods from Southern Spain to the rest of Europe.
In the early 1980s, this was very busy, when situated in residential areas close to heavy pedestrian traffic, a major arterial road, in holiday resorts it often separated the hotels from the beach; this mixture of cars, heavy lorries, with bikes, people and domestic animals in close proximity, driving or walking was fraught with danger, detritus littered the road surface and verges. In less urban areas pine trees often lined the road, otherwise low walls with gaps like a crenellation were built, it meant that an accident where vehicles left the road, they would invariable hit a tree or a wall, both fairly unforgiving. So when we used to set off on our sojourn around Spain, we were filled with a certain trepidation and having enjoyed a flavour of the wonderful local countryside we were always relieved to return the hire car intact.
The route has now been mostly replaced by the motorway – Autovia A7 or E15, the old N-340 in some places directly widened and strengthened, others bypassed and straightened, but generally following the same route; there are also new roads that are more direct, which needed expensive large bridges built and most of the cities now have new major ring roads. Where the N-340 remains mostly intact it is often renumbered as N340a, the once busy petrol stations, hotels and restaurants stand quietly by, a testimony to the past, the nearly 2000 years that this highway has been used, so busy and vital.
So we had a bit of a love hate relationship with this road, it was difficult to forget. It is possible to see the pine trees and low walls still, in lots of places, we noticed that the old road had been badly damaged in the September floods, that runs near to the motorway at kilometre 546, where the Autovia crosses the Almanzora river at Venta Overa, (junction number 547).
Yesterday we decided to have a look, so we parked near to the bridge and walked up a culvert, the area shows clearly the damage of the sheer force of water and debris, later looking at Google Earth , we realised an arched bridge (image above) had been totally obliterated. This pine tree with about 50% of it’s root system totally washed away and the old, broken, buckled road shows the power of the storm that day. They are doing some repairs, but we wonder what they will be able to do with the tree, it looks like a gust could bring it down, it felt quite scary standing underneath it.
As we drove under the motorway bridge over the river bed we noticed that one of the concrete column supports has had the earth washed away from the base, with the pilings revealed. Is that why the motorway has a lane restriction at this point?