- Published: 11 September 2023
Probably the most important project for the city and the one that will have the most direct impact on the lives of people in A Coruña this year is the so-called Low Emission Zone (ZBE). According to the European directive that makes it compulsory for cities with more than 50,000 inhabitants, A Coruña is equipping itself with all kinds of traffic control systems in view of a possible restriction. However, the installation of the complex camera network had stagnated for months before the summer and no progress was announced. In another case, such as the radar devices, they have arrived and been installed, but they are not yet operational either.
The LEZ is a complex system. These include things like new air pollution monitors, but the average Coruña has no reason, living in a city with little industry and exposed to the Atlantic winds. From the City Council’s point of view, during a symposium, Urban Planning Councilor Francisco Díaz Gallego publicly confirmed that the air quality in A Coruña is good and that this makes it much more difficult to convince the people of A Coruña of the need for ZBE. The only argument is that it is a binding European directive.
What worries the average citizen of Coruña, and anyone who frequently visits the city from the metropolitan area, is the possibility that traffic will be restricted to the most polluting vehicles, such as old diesel vehicles that are over twenty years old. According to a survey published in December by the National Institute of Statistics (INE) (with data from 2021), out of 97,470 residents aged 16 and over (97,470) registered in A Coruña, 51,820 have the car as the main vehicle used to get to work or study is being used.
The city council has always tried to address these concerns and stressed that this restriction was not planned. The first areas to become part of the ZBE were Ciudad Vieja and La Marina, where traffic restrictions were already severe and traffic was only open to residents. However, this measure was introduced in January and more than seven months later progress has been made in increasing the area covered by the LEZ.
On the other hand, other control systems have been installed at the main entrances to the city, such as radars or radar boxes (they have two rotating devices): in the third round, Avenida de A Passage, Salgado Torres or Finisterre. They are not yet activated and will not be activated without prior notice. But other systems lag behind.
An example of this is the presentation that took place in the screen room at the end of March. It was there that the installation of the first artificial intelligence (AI) camera was announced in Ourense Square. The AI identifies every movement captured by the telephoto lens and distinguishes whether it is a pedestrian, a car or a truck. Months later, no other AI camera is operational.
The same applies to the old town, where several cameras should monitor the restricted access of residents. Today there is only one left, like the one on Campo de A Estrada street in front of the military pharmacy, but it does not allow sanctions, as confirmed by municipal sources.
Today there are almost 200 cameras controlled from the screen room and it is expected to be more than 400 thanks to European next-generation funds, no less than six million euros, which will finance the LEZ. Brussels demands punctuality and consistency when investing with European money, so Inés Rey’s government has to meet deadlines. Now this isn’t the first time something similar has happened.
The most immediate precedent is the Smart City project prepared by the government of Carlos Negreira with the European Regional Development Fund (Feder). The idea was to install sensors at strategic points and services in A Coruña to make the city more efficient, as the ZBE also intends to do. Negreira received 11.5 million euros for this camera system, but never activated it.
In reality, the PP implemented no more than 35% of the budget, as La Marea pointed out when it came to power. Xulio Ferreiro’s government activated them, but only so as not to have to pay back European funds.
Quelle/Source: Nation World News, 04.09.2023