Unless steps are taken to improve Palma's Via Cintura ring-road traffic will have reached grid-lock by 2005. José Manuel Sierra, the man in charge of traffic for Palma City Council said yesterday that one of the conclusions to the traffic study being carried out is that the ring-road has got to be remodelled and the traffic flow greatly improved within the next three years. José Manuel Sierra said that it is vital for the capital that the council starts examining solutions now so that measures can be taken well in advance of the 2005 traffic saturation point. “Obviously, if we do not act now or as soon as possible, the solutions will be much harder to introduce,” he said. At present, the ring road reaches grid lock during the morning and evening rush hours and there are “black spots” where traffic is continually backed up throughout the day. “The saturation points clearly get worse during the summer with the large number of hire cars on the road,” José Manuel Sierra said. “When planning a city, we can not afford to wait until problems arise, we have got to try and pre-empt them so they can be avoided,” he added. Easing the traffic and parking problems is the biggest challenge facing the city council. The city council intends to enforce the mobility plan in full, but before Christmas made it clear that government funding is going to be needed to help meet the 54 million euro (9.000 million pesetas) costs of the ambitious project. Some projects, such as pedestrianising one side of El Borne, are ready to roll, but the main aim of the mobility plan is to create a well-ordered traffic system in the capital which will create a safer, faster and more comfortable environment for drivers and pedestrians. Some have suggested that more police handing out more fines are needed. To some extent the city council with its overhaul of the Local Police and the introduction of private traffic wardens goes part way to meeting such demands. More restricted parking is also part of the mobility plan and this year the council will be spending 2.000 million pesetas on traffic improvement initiatives. The renovation of the city's fleet of EMT public busses is also part of city hall's drive to ease the traffic chaos in the capital, but it will never prove to be the solution. Palma has one of the highest ratios of vehicles per capita in the world, not including the 20'000-plus hire cars.

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