The removal of mobility restrictions between Alicante and Murcia is causing the first problems in Orihuela Costa and Torrevieja, as traffic density increases, with thousands of people from neighbouring communities travelling to their second homes in Pilar de la Horadada and the Oriolan coast.
The tourist and commercial activity is far from what it was a year ago but the recovery of mobility between communities is already causing the first problems with traffic in the coastal areas of the province, a symptom that the return to normality is now very much a fact.
Slow traffic could be seen along long stretches of the N-332 on Sunday and again yesterday, particularly in Santa Pola. There were also many delays leading onto many of the roundabouts along the road between Guardamar and Pilar de la Horadada.
The image of deserted roads and motorways has now given way once more to long stretches, particularly along the expanse between Torrevieja and Santa Pola, where it is now impossible to exceed 60 kmh, and where the road only has one single lane in each direction, along which double continuous lines prevent overtaking and accidents.
Thankfully we are not yet at the stage where we see a return of traffic jams and accidents along the Torrevieja ring road, something that has been common in many other years.
The change was noticed, but to a lesser degree, with the arrival of phase II of de-escalation, but it was this weekend when the traffic really recovered a density that is approaching ‘the norm’ for this time of year, around to 40,000 vehicles a day at some points.
Also, with their first opening on Sunday, many of the shopping malls in tourist areas, particularly in Orihuela Costa and Torrevieja, were at the limit of their restricted capacity for a good part of the day.
As many families drive into coastal areas to take advantage of time at their second homes the Guardia Civil said that they have received dozens of inquiries from Madrid residents who wanted to return to their first home after being “trapped” in coastal towns in the Alicante province during the state of alarm. They wanted to know if they were authorised to return to their main home. However, “Very few movements in reverse have been detected, from Madrid to Alicante,” a spokesman said.
The increase in mobility also brings with it an increase in the number of traffic accidents on roads and urban areas of the Vega Baja coastline, especially since many bars, pubs, and restaurants reopened, around the 50% of which have involved positive alcohol levels.
Claims and penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol have increased around leisure areas. In the case of Torrevieja they shoot up in the late evening, particularly at weekends, especially in the surroundings of the leisure area of the Port and the Casagrande industrial estate.