The story that hides the bridge of A Illa de Arousa

The Rías Baixas have a natural charm that is very difficult to forget once you discover them. The variety of landscapes that exist there make your visit a unique experience and, thanks to many advances, today it is possible to access places that years ago did not enjoy the best communications. This is the case of A Illa de Arousa, the only island municipality in Galicia. This island of approximately 7 square kilometres boasts beaches, promenades, ports, a natural park and even a paradisiacal islet: O Areoso. What perhaps not everyone knows is the history behind it and the difficulties all its inhabitants went through in their day.


The island has only one entrance by land, which is its well-known bridge, almost 2 kilometers long. It is an essential element to access and leave the municipality and, nowadays, it is difficult to conceive life without it. Although it seems incredible, this construction is only 35 years old and, before its inauguration, the residents had to travel to the continent by sea.


The construction of the bridge in the 1980s seemed to worry the government, since it was a very large investment for a town that, at that time, had only 4,000 inhabitants. In A Illa there were great obstacles and it was difficult to guarantee a social welfare equivalent to that of the neighbouring peninsular towns, as many young people were left without higher education due to the cost of travelling. The situation was worse when there was a health emergency: transfer to the hospital was difficult and, when maritime transport did not work, some neighbours had to use their own boats to get to the nearest health centre.


The false promises made to the islanders in the 1950s were no longer made, but became an ever closer reality. On July 29, 1979, a gastronomic festival was held in the municipality under the slogan “a chave pra 6.000 presos” in order to put pressure on the administration and, by inviting neighbors from other towns, make visible the poor communication that the island had. As soon as the celebration was over, Jesús Sancho Rof (the Minister of Public Works) and José Antonio Gago Lorenzo (a former UDC deputy from Arousa) called in Parliament for the bridge to be built and both fought to get the project going.


The concern on the part of the two friends was the trigger to begin the work, since Jesús Sancho made the journey by sea to the island in the middle of the storm with José Antonio Gago. That difficult journey made the Minister of Public Works aware of what the inhabitants of A Illa had to go through to leave the continent, at which point he gave the go-ahead to develop the infrastructure after many years of struggle in the town. On October 2, 1982, one of the biggest civil works in those days was dated, and after much work, it was finished 3 years later.


On September 14, 1985 the bridge of A Illa de Arousa was inaugurated and with it, many opportunities emerged for all the neighbors. It improved their quality of life, promoted their economic development and allowed the town itself to become known, becoming a place of great tourist interest and an obligatory stop for all those who visit the Rías Baixas.


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