The Basque Government starts work on the new Pierre Loti cycle and pedestrian route


The new 1.2-km lane will provide a cross-border connection from Hondarribia-Irún-Hendaye, passing under the international bridges 

The work will start from the Amute roundabout and continue to Iparralde Hiribidea and the Ekoetxea environmental centre car park. The budget is €3.4 million and work is to last approximately 9 months 

The Basque Government has completed the formalities to award the contract for the “Pierre Loti Cycle and Pedestrian Route and Passing under the International Bridges” project. Aitor Aldasoro, the Basque Government's Deputy Minister for Environmental Sustainability, and Adolfo Uriarte, its Natural Heritage and Climate Change Director, have announced the start of the works and provided details of the project, which will have a budget of €3.4 million and is expected to last 9 months. 

The works have been awarded in 2 different lots. On the one hand, the works for the route (Lot 1) will be carried out by ASTILLEROS AMILIBIA UNTZIOLAK, S.L. and will cost €3,140,586 (including VAT), and on the other hand, the work for the car park (Lot 2) has been awarded to SASOI ERAIKUNTZAK, S.L for the amount of €306,296 (including VAT).

In turn, KREAN, S.COOP has been entrusted with the environmental and project & site management of the work, along with the health and safety coordination, in a contract worth €117,260 (including VAT).

The new cycle and pedestrian route that will start from the Amute roundabout to Iparralde Hiribidea (Lot 1), is divided into two phases:

The total length of the pedestrian and cycle route is 1.2 km, with an average width of 3.5 metres and with practically no slopes at surface level. The decking to cross the international bridges has gentle slopes between 6% and 3%, to connect with the height of the existing urbanisation.

Apart from the new route, the plan is to build a new car park to improve the needs of the users of the ecological park, as well as for the Plaiaundi High School (Lot 2). There is a forecourt in front of the Ekoetxea, where municipal facilities used to stand and which is being used as provisional parking.  A new layout is planned by creating a six-metre-wide road with 32 perpendicular parking spaces on the left, one of which will be for disabled parking. 

There will be eight parking spaces for motorbikes and three parallel spaces for coaches on the right, closer to the Pierri Loti road. The project design includes a roundabout for turning at the end and to reach the existing car park at the Ekoetxea. The car park will be landscaped with perimeter footpaths. Bike parking will be built alongside the car park entrance from the GI-636. Plant and permeable paving will be used for the car parks and pedestrian areas. 

This project is being implemented outside the limits of the‐ TXINGUDI‐BIDASOA Special Conservation Area (ZEC) ES2120018, but within its peripheral protection area. No impact on the species and habitats that were the grounds for ZEC status is foreseen.

As the Deputy Minister stressed, “apart from the obvious improvement to the connectivity between Hondarribia, Irún and Hendaye, - while following the natural areas of the estuaries, from Amute bridge and along the edge of Plaiaundi-, it shines a spotlight on a wonderful landscape; it is, therefore, an ambitious environmental restoration project”. He acknowledged that "there has been a great demand for this project, which has taken longer than we would have liked"; however, he explained that the project had to be updated "to solve different technical difficulties, and the decision was finally made to use a decking system similar to the one used in the part of the Hendaye route". He confirmed that "the contracts have been signed today and the work is expected to start shortly”.

Improving Txingudi connecivity

The work will be carried out in the heart of the Hendaye, Irún and Hondarribia conurbation, where 95,000 people live along the Bidasoa estuary; the area is also fragmented by the large infrastructures to be found there. 

In May 2015, the Basque Government's Ministry for Economic Development, Sustainability and the Environment unveiled the “Master Plan to Restore and Improve the Connectivity of the Natural Areas around Txingudi Bay”. While never ignoring the environmental aspect, the different goals in the master plan agreed by the authorities in the master plan included fostering the cycle and urban connectivity between Hendaye, Irún and Hondarribia along the estuary. It is a cross-border connection, linking the two banks of the River Bidasoa. 

The master plan envisaged a new pedestrian and cycle route through Pierre Loti, in the municipal district of Irún to connect the side of the estuary, with a lower two-way lane in the area around the bridges to France.

The Basque Government produced the preliminary design in 2015 and the first construction project was drafted in 2017. Different technical difficulties hindering the implementation of the planned work were discovered (existing services without a precise location, the piling proving hard to execute, disruption of the rail traffic). Therefore, the decision was made to draft an alternative project based on a solution using decking under the international bridges.  In 2022, the updating of the project was contracted and which will now become reality.