Over 14 years later, Kingsway Tunnel opens
Gibraltar's 'Kingsway' airport tunnel will open tonight at midnight after more than 14 years of construction and litigation.
Chief Minister Fabian Picardo opened the tunnel alongside former Chief Minister Sir Peter Caruana, with both cutting the ribbon on either side of the entry and exit roads of Kingsway.
The opening of Kingsway also saw the Governor, Vice Admiral Sir David Steel, members of the GSD Damon Bossino and Edwin Reyes, and Leader of Together Gibraltar Marlene Hassan, and local dignitaries including the Mayor Christian Santos attend.
"It's been a real pleasure at last to open the Gibraltar Airport Tunnel and it is a particular pleasure to be able to announce to you today that the airport and tunnel access roads [and the tunnel]...will be known as Kingsway...and that has been approved by His Majesty himself today," Mr Picardo said.
Standing in Gibraltar International Airport's Wessex Lounge alongside Mr Caruana, whose GSD adinistration had commenced the project, Mr Picardo marked the completion of the tunnel which took "much longer" than expected, an epic scheme "of almost Sagrada Familia" proportions" that was plagued by problems over many years.
"It was no failure on the part of the work force but because of the attitude of the contractor," Mr Picardo said.
He recognised the project was commissioned by his predecessor Mr Caruana and noted the work across the two government administrations, GSD and GSLP/Liberals.
"Before we were elected, a contract which had been awarded had become litigious and on the day Sir Peter came to hand over after we won the 2011 election he was very keen to ensure that we knew that if anybody tried to steal a march against the Government of Gibraltar or the people of Gibraltar then the previous administration would of course step up to ensure that didn't happen," Mr Picardo said.
Mr Picardo detailed how after much litigation it was now a pleasure to see the tunnel open, despite admitting he was not a fan of the project when it was first announced by the GSD.
He had deemed the project unnecessary at the time, but now said he fully understood the value of the project.
"This will aid traffic flow and will ease congestion," he said.
He called Kingsway a tunnel bridging Gibraltar and Europe and confirmed that tonight at midnight his vehicle G1 will be the last to cross the airport runway and the first to cross the tunnel.
Sir Peter thanked Mr Picardo for his gesture inviting him to speak at the opening of the tunnel.
"Barcelona and Milan have their cathedrals and their own iconic building that took a lifetime to build and now we have our own tunnel," Sir Peter said.
"It's hasn't taken quite as long, but as the Chief Minister says the project was steeped in controversy from the beginning."
"It was a very complicated EU tender process, then the first contractor that it awarded to pulled out shortly after the contracts were signed."
"The next contractor that was appointed did what contractors in some countries I'm told tend to do, that is bid low get the contract and then apply the pressure to get more money out of the clients."
"They picked the wrong client."
Sir Peter remembered how work ground to a halt in the run up to the 2011 general election, and the government would not fall for that "trick" and the contractor was sacked.
"If the tunnel had to be paralysed then so be it," Sir Peter said.
He said successive government's have invested in Gibraltar's infrastructure and the tunnel was a long-term vision.
"We're not talking about what you think Gibraltar needs today but what Gibraltar is going to need in 15 or 20 years time and take the flak in the meantime," he said.