Spain Flexes Muscles at Gibraltar Frontier

Gibraltar border queues returned with a vengeance last week in a move linked to the Brexit referendum.

330km of new expressways for Poland. Putin wants someone to hang if the Crimea Kerch Link opens late. The proposed M20 Operation Stack truck park will be absolutely massive. Super-high Stelvio stays open surprisingly late.

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SPAIN FLEXES MUSCLES AT GIBRALTAR BORDER

Wildcat delays linked to UK Brexit debate.

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Gibraltar border queue. Keep up to date via @GibraltarFrontier but watch over a period of time, snapshot individual delays can be misleading. 

Border queues are now back to normal but long delays last week are said to be linked to the British Brexit debate.

Last Tuesday (15 March), drivers waited for two hours to cross into Spain with the delays causing long tailbacks right across Gibraltar according to GBC News.

There have been other similar instances recently after a long period of relative normality.

GBC News editor Stephen Neish tells @DriveEurope the timing makes him think Spain is ‘flexing its muscles’ over the Brexit debate.

Gibraltar First Minister Fabian Picardo last week quoted Spanish foreign minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo saying he would ‘come down to Algeciras and drink champagne’ if the UK voted to leave on 23 June.

Margallo is on record earlier this month saying he would bring up the question of Gibraltar ‘the very next day’ if the UK left the EU.

Spain’s political parties have until 2 May to come up with a new government after an inconclusive general election in December.

Margallo’s conservative People’s Party won the election but lost its majority.

A left-leaning coalition would likely be more favourable for Gibraltar.

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A major new expressway-building programme announced for Poland. More later.

Poland: ten major road projects worth €3.3 billion will go ahead with a €1.7 billion contribution from the EU it has been announced. The bulk of the cash – €776 million – goes to the Szczecin-Katowice branch of the Gdansk-Ravenna Baltic-Adriatic TEN-T Corridor in the south west. Nearly €500 million goes to finish the upgrade of S7 in the north east to link Gdansk with Warsaw (and on to Budapest in Hungary) while €450 million goes on roads down through the east of the country to link better link Katowice and Warsaw with Via Baltica through the Baltic States. Around 330km of ‘expressways’ should be built in total. Expessways are (mostly) dual carriageway roads with lower speed ratings – 120kmh – than full motorways (140kmh). No timeframe is mentioned but the EU money comes from the Cohesion Fund and European Regional Development Fund allocated 2014-2020. Photo S79 expressway, Warsaw Chopin Airport via @GDDKiA

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roundup: RUSSIA. President Vladimir Putin wants someone to hang if the Kerch Link to Crimea is not finished on time, or to standard. During a visit on Friday he called for one person to take responsibility for the entire project, particularly the onward road and rail links to Sevastopol without which, he said, ‘all our work would be rather senseless’ according to The Kremlin. Work on the 19km Kerch Bridge section, via Tuzla Island, is apparently progressing well. Several previous attempts to cross the Kerch Strait have floundered due to shifting sands in the Azov Sea and winter ice floes. It will be the only fixed link between Crimea and the Russian mainland. Putin wants it to open on 18 December 2018. OPERATION STACK. The sheer scale of the proposed Operation Stack truck park on the M20 became starkly apparent today. Factsheets prepared for MPs on the Transport Select Committee show the Stanford Lorry Park at 65 hectares would be only 2 hectares smaller than Disneyland California, and fifty percent larger than the Vatican City. Its capacity for 4000 trucks is only 200 less than the world’s current largest at Al Baraha Barwa in Qatar, and more than four times bigger than the biggest in the US. By comparison, the nearby Stop 24 in Kent can hold 250 vehicles and Ashford International Truckstop 390 – both of them have apparently put expansion plans on hold while the new M20 site is debated. Chancellor George Osborne allocated £250 million to the project last year. ITALY. It may be under snow at the moment, but Italy’s premier mountain road Stelvio opens for the summer on Saturday 28 May according to Valtellina Turismo. That’s early by super-high mountain pass standards (though bang on its usual schedule). At 2757m (9045ft), Stelvio is considerably higher than Swiss passes like Nufenen 2478m and Susten 2224m which throw off winter locks in mid-June. For comparison, similarly high Col Agnel 2746m in the French Alps opens at the end of June. The mild winter saw many roads close much later than normal (Stelvio also closes quite late too, at the start of November). Keep an eye on Stelvio via the webcam, or see more on mountain passes at PassFinder.

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