AFTER THOUSANDS of people came out to protest on Saturday, the Madrid regional government has put a Metro expansion plan on hold that would have seen hundreds of trees cut down in the city’s Río park.
The transport department in the regional government, which is run by the conservative Popular Party, has opted to carry out a study to see if the trees can be moved elsewhere rather than being removed and destroyed.
The study will not just focus on the trees in the Comillas Park, which is home to a popular child’s play area, but also all of the trees that were due to be cut down under the plan to extend Line 11 of the Metro system, which will run from the southwest to the northeast of the city once complete.
Around a thousand trees were due to be felled for the project, with nearly 300 in the Madrid Río park alone due for the chop.
The plans that had originally been made public about the work did not include the location of a new station in the Madrid Río park, in the Arganzuela district, but rather in a nearby road.
News that emerged earlier this month that the trees would be knocked down and the ‘pirate ship’ play park destroyed to make way for the tunnelling machine sparked outrage among local residents.
What’s more, many voiced their bafflement that a Metro station was to be located in a park, prompting fears for the safety of women emerging from the planned stop at nighttime.
A statement released yesterday by the regional government about the change in plans blamed the need to ‘avoid other infrastructure’ such as the nearby M-30 ring road as well as water pipes and electricity cables.
The regional government has now said it will readdress the plans once more, in particular in terms of the trees affected, and carry out a study.
A spokesperson for the Pasillo Verde-Imperial residents association, Susana de la Higuera, said that her group ‘celebrated’ the fact that the cutting down of the trees had been put on hold,’ but lamented that there was ‘no talk yet about removing the Metro station from the park’.