Eco-Hvar: Pitve Road Re-Opened, Hallelujah?

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Trees were uprooted to make way for the road

Pitve’s road re-opened yesterday, but celebrations are muted.

The direct road up to Pitve from Jelsa re-opened yesterday after many long months of widening works. Cause for celebration, in that people driving between Jelsa, Pitve and the villages beyond on the south side of the island (Zavala, Gromin Dolac, Ivan Dolac and Sveta Nedjelja) no longer have to suffer the expense and inconvenience of the detour via Svirče. The new road is pristine, a ribbon of modernity cutting through the aged landscape and woodlands. Not exactly a motorway, but in the context of the island roads it’s not far off. It will certainly be easier driving than before for guests who visit in their outsized people-carriers.

Those of us who care about the environment will mourn the loss of the trees and the leafy arcade they formed. Concern has already been expressed about the Austrian bollards being concreted into place in an ugly and haphazard way. There was hope that this would be corrected, in view of the locals’ strong reaction, but far from it. Now the bollards languish behind bare metal posts, a leftover from times past, relegated to the background. Presumably the utilitarian struts are intended to support crash barriers. Does that mean the planners are expecting high speeds and accidents? Surely not! All in the name of progress, but not a pretty sight and not a happy prospect.

The new road will certainly be pleasanter to drive on, but it highlights the problem of the bottlenecks in Upper and Lower Pitve. We can only hope that a solution will be found to ease the pressure through the villages, and that the further road works, when they come, will be carried out with more expediency than this time round. These works lasted a lot longer than anyone expected.

Roads will never be an environmental asset or environmentally friendly, but they are part of modern living. Fortunately, roads on Hvar will always be restricted, and outnumbered by the many attractive ancient paths through fields and woodlands, which are a special joy for visitors who like walking and enjoy nature. Hvar is criss-crossed by footpaths, many of which are marked at intervals with a red circle, and one can walk for hours without being disturbed by vehicles. With local elections coming up next week, let’s hope that Hvar’s actual and would-be politicians put caring for the environment at the forefront of their programmes. It’s in everyone’s interests to work together to preserve the island’s most valuable asset.



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