Palma is to have a new ferry passenger port built as part of an ambitious port improvement plan approved by the Balearic Port Authority yesterday. Port Authority chairman, Francesc Triay, said yesterday that the new ferry terminal will be able to handle 10'000 passengers per day and will be built at the end of the commercial docks. Triay also said that the project will include the recuperation and reconstruction of the La Riba lighthouse. The cost of the initiative will be around 35 million euros and could be completed by 2005. Triay said that the new terminal will enable ferries, currently docking at the Pelaires quay at the end of the Paseo Maritimo, to dock closer to the city centre and provide foot passengers with direct access to Palma. The project is to be partly funded by the Ministry for Development but first has to go on public exhibition before the final plans are submitted to Palma City Council. Triay is convinced that the ferry terminal project will receive full approval within the next six months. The new ferry terminal will have five moorings for ships connecting Palma with Barcelona and Valencia. The Port Authority and the City Council have been talking about expanding ferry and merchant shipping facilities of Palma and bringing passengers closer to the city centre. Triay said yesterday that the time has come for action. Over the past five years, the number of ferry passengers has risen by 63 per cent, cruise passengers by 89 per cent and merchant shipping by 50 per cent. Eventually, Triay envisages the new ferry terminal at the Moll Vell, the old docks, becoming the hub of passenger shipping in Palma with the Dique del Oeste, currently used by cruise liners, ferries, merchant and navy shipping, becoming a new commercial port which in turn will reduce the amount of heavy goods vehicles using the centre of Palma and the Paseo Maritimo. Lorries will be able to exit the Dique del Oeste and drive straight on to the Via Cintura. Plans for an underground access road from the Via Cintura to the commercial docks are still being studied.

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