Bilbao is the fourth Spanish port in terms of goods traffic. Among other objectives, it aims to consolidate its position as a hub for special loads, bearing in mind the growth in this traffic, and it needs to carry out extension works in order to be able to attend the demand for port land, since its occupancy level now stands at 87%. The Territorial Council of Biscay also wants to contribute to the Port’s growth – due to its impact on the territory’s economy – to speed up traffic on local roads and improve management of the surplus materials from the works to be carried out.
Consequently, and to benefit from synergies, the Port Authority of Bilbao and the Territorial Council of Biscay have reached an agreement to increase cooperation in matters pertaining to accessibility and to take advantage of the surplus material resulting from the Council’s works to be used as filling inside the Port.
Lay-bys on N-240 Road
In recent years, special heavy-load traffic has increased significantly. In 2018, the Port of Bilbao carried out 4,920 operations for this type of cargo – an average of 15-20 vehicles a day. Nonetheless, there are circumstances that can reduce the competitiveness of both this traffic and that of the Port of Bilbao, such as:
- The passage of convoys causes problems in city centres – hold ups and a lack of road safety in transit. These are problems for both regular users and special transport companies.
- Present costs and transit difficulties could lead to loss of competitiveness for the industrial fabric, and by extension, affect demand for Port customers.
The greatest road access problem is on the N-240 Tarragona-Bilbao road. This is very much used by special loads traffic as it is toll-free and the main route for the companies manufacturing this type of goods, especially wind energy parts, and the Port of Bilbao. Due to their large dimensions and low speed, such vehicles cause traffic congestion in the area of Arratia, especially at peak times.
To reduce the effects of this on the N-240, it is necessary to take minimising action.
With a view to improving traffic flow, in those areas available where special transport vehicles can pull over to allow other vehicles to overtake them or to stop in case of need or breakdown, it has been proposed to make lay-bys on the N-240 and preliminary studies have already been made.
The Port Authority will finance the project, which is estimated at some 500,000 euros, while the Territorial Council will draw up the plans as well as contracting and carrying out the works. This agreement will be sent to the Department for Spanish State Ports, the body which must grant approval, and it is expected that if the stipulated times are met, that the lay-bys can be in operation in 2020.
Incentives to use the pre-notification system and the AP-8 motorway
In addition to the agreement to improve accessibility to Barazar, there was also the one signed last year between the Port Authority of Bilbao and Interbiak, a public corporation attached to the Department of Economic and Territorial Development of the Territorial Council of Biscay, to boost the programme for lorry pre-entry notification in the Port area and the use of the Southern Metropolitan Bypass toll road (AP-8) for goods vehicles whose origin or destination is the Port of Bilbao.
Its main object is to avoid queues and waiting times at Port area accesses, in the present context of the increase in port traffic.
The programme commenced half way through 2018 for an initial four-year period with a maximum yearly payment of 100,000 euros; 50,000 euros corresponded to the second half of 2018.
At the beginning, 322 vehicles registered. This number increased month by month, with 140 new inscriptions in the second half year and a total of 462 by the end of the year. In February, the Port Authority began to refund the amounts.
For entry/departure from the Port to be computed in the incentives programme, it is necessary to fulfil three conditions: register on the Port’s website, use the pre-entry notification service on e-puertobilbao.com, and to enter or leave the Port via the Southern Metropolitan Bypass.
In the first six months of the scheme, there have been 9,055 Port entry and departures complying with the three programme requisites, which means users have a 0.75€ incentive for each pre-notification/trip.
An exponential growth is expected in the coming years, since the increase in registered users is added to the increase in the use of the pre-entry notification system, which is generalised in container use (90%), but reduced in the solid bulks and general non-container cargo terminals.
The automatic access system Bergé plans to implement at its Port terminals this year will contribute to this end and will join the automatic gates installed by Noatum Container Terminal Bilbao at the end of 2017.
The IT systems developed by the Port Authority and Interbiak for registering information have worked correctly, which shows that the platform is properly structured to assume an increase of beneficiaries in the next four years.
The registration period remains open. All the information is available at the website: https://www.bilbaoport.eus/servicios/puerto-preaviso-ap-8-ahorro/.
Works in the Mamariga tunnels
The rehabilitation works on the Mamariga Tunnels on the N-644 road commenced in mid- September with the commitment of the Territorial Council of Biscay and the Port of Bilbao to take all the essential measures and to provide all the necessary resources to accelerate and manage heavy loads transport in order to minimise disruptions to the utmost, and to guarantee the accessibility to and competitiveness of the Port at all times.
The Mamariga Tunnels, which have been in service since 1990, constitute a strategic point for the Biscay territorial road network being used by 17,000 vehicles to access the Port of Bilbao and the towns of Santurtzi and Zierbena on a daily basis. Consequently, this is an essential plan to modernise and to improve safety for a priority access road to one of the driving forces of the Biscay economy.
Since it was impossible to limit the works to nights only, the number of work shifts was increased as were material and human resources so as to minimise the time of the works’ effects. Thus, the minimum works completion period brought about by the closing of one tube is 6 months, and the final carrying out of all the works will be 10 months, instead of the initially estimated 14.
The works, which commenced on 17 September are progressing completely normally, with minimum effects on goods transport and other vehicles using this infrastructure. The works are advancing at a good pace and, in fact, last Sunday, 24 February, the western tube (direction Bilbao) was opened, already conditioned and adapted to current legislation. This means that traffic can now be transferred to this tube using the same present two-way flow of the eastern tube (direction Port), which will now be closed completely for its corresponding rehabilitation.
Using material from works for filling in the Port
The Port Authority and the Territorial Council reached a fourth agreement in addition to those regarding accessibility, whereby use will be made of the leftover material from Council works for filling in purposes in the Port, thus, complementing mutual needs.
At present, the Port Authority is carrying out construction works on what is known as the Central Pier, whose first stage will be completed in the autumn, and will be followed by putting out to tender the works for fitting it out, which will be done in stages. Then, at a date still to be set, the works for the second stage of this pier, which will also need approximately over five million cubic metres filling material, will also be put out to tender. This work will last for approximately two and a half years.
Meanwhile, the Territorial Council is carrying out important works that produce surplus material that has to be taken to dumps, and there are other projected works. Therefore, if the environmental, quality and geotechnical characteristics are appropriate, this material will be used for filling, as a circular economy exercise which enables resources to be exploited, while saving costs maintaining sustainability. These works are as follows:
- The Southern Metropolitan Bypass which will produce 50,000 m3 between April and July 2019.
- The accesses to Ezkerraldea/Meatzaldea Technology Park that could contribute 60,000 m3 and Kukularra 2, a further 60,000 m3.
- Excavation of the Lamiako subfluvial: the amount of material to be excavated here has still not been quantified, although as this work will not commence until 2023, it is possible it will not fit in with the schedule the Port has marked out for its works.