Despeñaperros Bypass

A modern communication route that respects the environment

The Despeñaperros Bypass, a modern communication route that was designed with maximum guarantees of environmental sustainability, is located between Santa Elena and Venta de Cárdenas. It consists of a double roadbed with three lanes in each direction and is 9.4 kilometres long.

Almost the entire route runs through broken orography land within the Despeñaperros National Park. These two circumstances require that the new roadway route consists of a series of viaducts and tunnels, which made up 73% of the total length. Between these two highways, there are twelve viaducts, with lengths of 156 to 580 metres and five underground-excavated tunnels from 197 to 1,925 metres in length.

The typical section of the dual carriageway consists of a roadway with two 3.5-metre wide circulation lanes, with 2.5-metre outer hard shoulders and 1.0-metre inner verges. Along three kilometres, the section has three 3.5-metre wide lanes and the hard shoulder is 1.0 metre.

Six viaducts are executed along the route length, Santa Elena (260 metres), El Manantial (371 metres), Las Tinajuelas (520 metres), Despeñaperros (425 metres), Cuchareros (73 metres) and Venta de Cárdenas (150 metres), which cross a series of water courses and the River Despeñaperros. 

The proposed tunnels are: Las Lomas (215 metres), La Aliseda (370 metres), Tinajuelas (980 metres), La Cantera (390 metres), Despeñaperros (1,850 metres) and the conditioning of the Corzo Tunnel (372 metres), the latter two have sections for three circulation lanes.

It is worthwhile emphasising the Despeñaperros Tunnel, which is divided into two tubes and where four galleries have been executed for vehicle connection between the two tubes together with a parking area in its central part. The Cuchareros Viaduct is located at its north mouth, executed by means of a 70-metre long, 53-metre span metal arch in order to respect the environment. This viaduct leads to the 420-metre long El Corzo Tunnel that connects the Castilla-La Mancha and Andalusia communities.

Among the adopted solutions, mention should be made of the viaduct construction process employing prefabricated voussoirs that are installed onsite by using upper self-launching arch falsework; together with the use of the New Austrian Method for tunnel excavation.

In relation to the environment, a large number of measures intended to reduce and correct the environmental impact are proposed for crossing the Despeñaperros National Park. These included archaeological surveys, planting, landscape restoration, flora, fauna and water course protection, together with noise impact, among others. The amount for these operations came to an approximate investment of 7.76 million Euros.

The crossing of this section, which runs along thirteen kilometres, can now be accomplished in seven minutes after the works, instead of the previous nine. After its opening to traffic, in addition to a highway in better general conditions, drivers will find a highway, along which they can circulate at 80 km/h, when the current maximum speed is only 50 km/h and which also has wider roadways and fewer curve than the existing one.


Remarkable aspects

  • 73% of the route executed by means of viaducts and tunnels.
  • A reduction of travelling time.
  • Adoption of numerous environmental measures.

Client: Ministry of Development. State Highways Department in Eastern Andalusia

Start date: 2004

End date: 2011