Why is the A69 motorway project between Toulouse and Castres controversial?

Why is the A69 motorway project between Toulouse and Castres controversial?

Listening to the arguments of the “anti”, the project is completely absurd. A motorway connection along an existing national road, between Toulouse (Haute-Garonne) and Castres (Tarn), leading to the artificialization of 300 hectares of land and the clear cutting of century-old trees. All this for a time saving of around twenty minutes, at the exorbitant price of €8.47 for 53 kilometers. Despite the recent forum of 200 scientists, categorical about the “deleterious”, “useless”, “ecocidal” nature of the project, the government does not want to hear anything.

The game is played in a department split in two. To the north, the prefecture, Albi. To the south, the sub-prefecture, Castres. Two towns equidistant from Toulouse. Except that in 1995, the first had its highway connecting it to the Pink City, and not the second. The current tensions must be placed in this context, where a feeling of inequity has been transmitted over the decades among local elected officials in South Tarn and a good part of their constituents – more than 500 local companies support the A69 today. today. They all put forward the argument, which we can hear, of “opening up”. In fact, in the eyes of Toulouse residents, Albi seems much closer than Castres. In 2021, Jean Castex, then Prime Minister, went to Tarn to reveal the choice of the concessionaire for the future A69, Astosca, announcing that he was coming to “repair an injustice”.

Intense lobbying

The problem is that we are no longer in the 1970s, when the project was sketched out. Today, at a time of sobriety imperatives, the demand of Tarn residents is in total contradiction with the wishes of our leaders to revitalize small towns, to encourage local agricultural production or to fight against carbon emissions. CO2.

What happened to make the State comply with the wishes of the Tarn communities, all political sides combined? First, he will pay nothing, or almost nothing. The private sector finances the vast part of the highway. Then, a name: Pierre Fabre. The third French pharmaceutical laboratory, historically established in Castres, has deployed its activities in the Toulouse metropolis. From the beginning of the 2000s, he undertook strong lobbying with public authorities and, in a document whose content was subsequently published, explained how “the company needs this axis to continue its development since his region of origin, Castres-Mazamet”. Pierre Fabre obtained the tacit agreement of the State in 2006.

Since then, the “pros” have won the legal battles. Declared of public utility in 2018, the A69 saw work begin last March. Now, the Minister of Transport initially played for time and ended up declaring on October 16 that the project had been relaunched and would be completed. With the argument of the legal nature of the highway, which should be put into service in 2025.

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