Glòries road tunnel in Barcelona fully opens after 7 years of construction

Traffic heading to and from the north will travel underground for 957m

Vehicles using the Glòries tunnel in Barcelona, April 3, 2022 (by Maria Belmez)
Vehicles using the Glòries tunnel in Barcelona, April 3, 2022 (by Maria Belmez) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

April 3, 2022 07:55 PM

The Glòries road tunnel in Barcelona opened to traffic heading into the city on Sunday, the culmination of seven years of construction work.

That means that five months on from the tunnel opening in one direction, it is now fully operational, with the remaining barrier lifted at 6.40am.

This major piece of infrastructure is designed to bring benefits to long-distance traffic, but also local residents and public transport users, as private vehicles are now banned from street level at Glòries.

Barcelona City Council's mobility manager, Manel Valdés, warned that expected teething problems on Monday could mean delays, especially at rush hour, and he asked motorists to bear that in mind and plan their commute accordingly.

Complex works

The local council acknowledges that "it has been one of the most complex works ever carried out in the city," which have resulted in a 957-meter long tunnel with two ways separated from each other by a wall.

Once vehicles exit the tunnel, they will be able to turn right on Bilbao street through the right lane and go to Marina street through the middle one. The left lane will be reserved for buses, which will be the only ones allowed to continue straight on Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes.

Buses and taxis willing to use the side lane of Gran Via will have a specific exit right before reaching the tunnel, while other private vehicles that want to use this lane will have to take the last exit on the C-31 road before the tunnel, 'sortida 207 Bac de Roda/Poblenou'.

While private vehicles will now go in and out of Barcelona below Plaça Glòries, a 10-hectare park that is already partly open will take over cars above the square.

'Gain for public transport'

The council believes the tunnel will lead to "a significant gain for public transport."

Only public transport, local residents, and emergency services will be allowed to drive between Bilbao and Padilla streets.

Authorities also aim to eliminate a barrier between one side of Glòries square and the other, occupied until 2014 by a so-called 'drum' that was used to indicate directions for vehicles.

Long-running controversy

The project has been a source of contention due to the length of time the works have been going on for.

Barcelona City Council first awarded the contract for the project in 2010, but works didn't begin until April 25, 2015, with an initial cost of €60 million. They were planned to last 25 months, with the finishing date set for May 9, 2017.

Yet, in April 2017 the local council ended the contract with the companies that had won the public tender on the grounds that an audit had spotted "a 19-month delay and a possible 19.6% price increase." The works were halted until March 2018, when they then resumed.