The long-awaited tunnel on the A7/N340 at San Pedro de Alcántara is finally open to the public. Costing nearly €85 million, three times the original estimate, work on the 1km tunnel began in 2007 and with the stop/start construction has taken five long years, just scraping into the final budgets before the country’s austerity measures really started to bite.
Yet it’s not quite complete, as there is still work on the development of the mostly pedestrianised 90,000 square metre open area above the tunnel. Will this boost the San Pedro and Estepona property market? Surely no one expects prices in Spain to rise anytime soon? Yet those in the know are already experiencing the Tunnel Effect.
Many San Pedro business owners lost half their business when the project started and some of them along the main road closed their doors for good. Some say the economic crisis was to blame and others know that the road closure essentially blocked access to their business. The San Pedro tunnel has eased transport and reduced travel from Guadalmina, Buenavista, Cancelada and all points West to the retail and leisure ‘hot spots’ of San Pedro, Puerto Banús and Marbella town and vice versa.
For commercial businesses in Estepona and Benahavis, this ease of transport may make people living between the towns more likely to go to the bigger attractions of Marbella. However, this should be balanced by more people in western Marbella now not being blocked from ‘venturing West’ to see what Benahavis and Estepona have to offer and they won’t be disappointed. San Pedro itself, with the removal of the through traffic and the more recent construction, will literally ‘bloom’ with the creation of the new boulevard or linear park above the tunnel. Already we can see new commercial ventures appearing and the ease of passage to and from Nueva Alcántara and San Pedro town centre must be good for both.
The same can be said for housing and hotels, with the New Golden Mile being easily connected to the original. The quality areas such as Guadalmina, El Paraiso, Los Flamingos and Cabo Bermeja are now much more attractive to potential residents and tourists, having the benefits of their own local facilities plus now the ease of access to all the others in whichever direction. This will increase the potential demand for houses large and small as the circulation of wealth is likely to create new employment opportunities, which will in turn increase the demand for houses in the local property market.
The Tunnel is and will have a very positive impact in Marbella and western Málaga province as a whole. As an economic driver it has changed the residential and commercial property outlook for good and all will watch for the market as a whole to realise that the town and areas west have changed substantially for the better.
Written by Dave Jackson of Survey Spain Network