Saying that “social circumstances” forced him to take a decision, the mayor of Burgos on Friday announced a definite halt to a controversial road expansion project in his city that has been creating tension among residents.
“We want social peace,” said Mayor Javier Lacalle of the conservative Popular Party (PP).
The decision was made following a week of violent protests in Burgos that spilled over to Madrid and resulted in the arrests of dozens of people. Citizens came out in full force last weekend to block construction workers from expanding Vitoria street in the city’s Gamonal neighborhood into a boulevard.
The estimated cost of the project is near eight million euros, which protestors said could be used elsewhere. They also complained that widening the road would deprive local residents of parking spaces and increase traffic and noise pollution.
The citizens who had been camping out at the construction site cheered after they learned of the mayor’s final decision which was broadcast on radio.
Because of the protests and the growing nationwide support for the Gamonal residents, Lacalle explained that it was “impossible” to continue on with the project.
“Co-existence is much more important than 60, 50 or 40 projects,” the mayor said, while adding that he believed that the road expansion “wasn’t the problem” but “an excuse” for the unrest that had taken place.
Earlier in the day, Lacalle had said that project would continue after he temporarily suspended work earlier in the week because he feared for the safety of the city workers.
Protestors threw rocks and burned trash bins to prevent the expansion from continuing. Some demonstrators even threatened to throw themselves in front of diggers and bull dozers if they moved in by force.