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The New Coastal Road : Declared as a public interest project, another step forward for a concrete project

A major step was taken today at the 1st permanent committee meeting of the year for the large-scale regional project of the New Coastal Road, as the elected members of the Regional Council declared this major construction to be a Public Interest Project.

The elected members of the Regional Council have now declared the project of a New Coastal Road to be of public interest, the aim being to construct a road which will be permanently protected from both the hazards linked to the cliff and those linked to sea swell. They also declared themselves to be in favour of pursuing the procedure aimed at declaring the construction work as a Public Interest Project, as well as making the urban plans of Saint-Denis and La Possession compatible with the project.

Since 2010, this major project has been the centre of many debates and studies :

  • By the Regional Council, particularly with, notably, 6 permanent committees and 2 plenary assemblies dedicated to the project.
  • By the population of Reunion Island, with discussions with the public from 1st April to 31st May and the public enquiry in November 2011 over one month (more than 100 contributions).

As a perfect example of the democratic process, discussion with the public and the public enquiry were two major steps, during which the population of Reunion Island was able to give its opinion and express its ideas about the New Coastal Road.

Thus, the economic, social and environmental perspectives of this large-scale project were considered through a wide consultation with citizens, associations and state organisations in charge of environmental protection.

The next step, the project being declared of public interest, will be officially announced by the Prefecture in the coming weeks, before the launching of the NCR construction in 2013.

The New Coastal Road, one of the major construction works of the Regional Council, will be a structuring and strategic axis for the economy of Reunion and its inhabitants. The public enquiry, which was held in October 2011, shows that users are mostly in favour of a safe road. The Reunionese have clearly asked for access to be facilitated between the west and north, with fewer traffic jams and a more fluid circulation.

Compared to the former project, the New Coastal Road project presents three major differences :

  • 2 integrated bus lanes : the integration of a TCSP (Transport en Site Propre : Bus lane) into the project is one of the major commitments of the Regional Council and part of the Trans Eco Express programme.
  • No tolls, meaning this essential infrastructure will be totally free ; to avoid constraints for the Reunionese each time they use the road.
  • The environmental challenges will be taken into consideration through the creation of a monitoring committee for the coastal road. Following a request from the Minister of Ecology, on 12th October, the environmental authority of the departmental council for Environment and Sustainable Development gave a favourable opinion of the project for the New Coastal Road. The Regional Council remains watchful concerning a thorogh and conscientious application of the environmental regulations in the construction of this project and will specifically ensure that future procedures are flawless, notably in respect of minimum environmental impact.

To this day, and following the additional studies carried out, the modified project continues to respect the initial budget of €1.6 billion, as well as the planned schedule, confirmed at the end of November in the preliminary draft.

A reminder of the regional large-scale construction projects

As an essential element of the development of the island and its competitiveness, the regional large-scale construction projects (the New Coastal Road, the Trans Eco Express and the development of the airports) will play a major role in the economic revival of the island, both in the construction sector and services to companies. The Regional Council prioritises the large-scale construction projects to enhance, in the long term, the competitiveness of the island and its local economic actors.

An ambitious and realistic project, the New Coastal Road is a priority for the political majority of the island : €1.6 billion invested in a large-scale engineering project to link Saint-Denis and La Possession. The new road will have 2 objectives :

  • making this major infrastructure safe for daily users, protecting them both from the risks linked to the cliff and to those of the swell
  • making transport of people and goods between North and South more reliable.

The New Coastal Road : an accelerated schedule and concrete progress since 2010

  • 24th June 2010 : during the plenary assembly, under the presidency of Didier Robert, President of the Regional Council, the decision was taken to make the New Coastal Road a free infrastructure. The toll system was abandoned. The program includes a dedicated lane for public transport. The cost was estimated to €1.6 billion.
  • 5th October 2010 : the technical elements were decided for continuing analysis.
  • 25th February 2011 : signature of a partnership agreement between the Regional Council and the town council of Saint-Denis for launching studies concerning the planning of the western entrance to the main town of Reunion Island (Saint-Denis).
  • From 1st April to 21 May 2011 : a public enquiry was set up in the town halls of La Possession and Saint-Denis, leading to a month of discussions. Several public meetings were also held, during which everyone could express his or her opinion.
  • 5th July 2011 : the permanent committee approved the initial preliminary draft and authorised the legal referral of the Prefect to declare the project as being of public interest (PIP).
  • 19th July 2011 : the permanent committee approved the choice of the EGIS group as project manager for carrying out the studies.
  • September 2011 : beginning of operational studies.
  • 25th October 2011 : signature of the framework agreement between the Regional Council, the French State and the French employment agency concerning employment and professional training related to the construction of the New Coastal Road.
  • From 2nd November to 2nd December 2011 : launching of public enquiry. The public enquiry will lead to a report and the conclusions of the enquiry committee one month later.
  • 6th December 2011 : signature of a funding protocol with The Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (Deposits and Consignments Fund) for a loan of €500 million, based on saving funds, with a preferential repayment rate.
  • January 2012 : approval of the public enquiry committee.

Next steps for the NEW COASTAL ROAD :

  • 1st semester 2012 : signature of the PIP decree
  • 2013 : start of construction
  • 2018 : public opening of the first section
  • 2020 : public opening of the second section