The covered Rondes (by-pass)
In addition to opening the city to the sea and giving a huge boost to its international reputation, the principal legacy of the Olympic Games in Barcelona was the construction of the rondas (bypasses), which alleviated traffic congestion in the city centre. Ronda de Dalt and Ronda Litoral (mountain and seafront bypasses) were added to the map of Barcelona's fast routes, mainly comprising Gran Via, Diagonal, Ronda del Mig and Meridiana. In some cases, these roads run through densely populated areas, which gave rise to public movements to demand that some stretches be covered over. These works, where they have proved possible, achieve two goals: the reduction of noise pollution and the creation of new public green spaces for the neighbourhoods.

Our tour of the main works to cover the rondas begins in the district of Nou Barris, just outside Canyelles underground station (L3). Along this stretch, the covering of Ronda de Dalt provided space for a landscaped area with sports facilities, a skateboard park and basketball courts. The project also helped revitalise this area by the Canyelles Market and Parc de Josep Maria Serra i Martí, creating an outstanding pedestrian area amid a polygon of blocks of flats. The centrepiece of the park is its terraced fountain, opposite a sculpture of a Flamenco dancer on a circular stage. The sculpture is called Alegría and is a tribute to María Ángeles Rivas, a leading activist in the neighbourhood residents associations in the fight for better facilities and services in Canyelles. This symbol of flamenco also reflects the large number of immigrants from around Spain living in the neighbourhood.
The sculpture Alegría at Parc de Josep Maria Serra i Martí
The sculpture Alegría at Parc de Josep Maria Serra i Martí
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» Don't miss...
In half a day...
In a full day...
» The next challenge: the half-covering of Gran Via
The next big covering operation for a fast route is underway on the stretch of...
» The sounds of the city
Car horns, motorbikes, dogs, music, voices and hundreds of mobile phone melodies...
 
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Don't miss...
In half a day
The most urbanite among you will appreciate the chances that the city's extensive network of buses offer for relaxing tours of its neighbourhoods, discovering all sorts of sights along the way. Bus lines such as the 31 or 74 cross several neighbourhoods, and offer an excellent vantage point for an interesting exercise in analysis of the transformation of the cityscape.

In a full day
It's worth your while to visit each of the points along the route and walk around the area. In the Canyelles neighbourhood, the bridge in Parc de Josep Maria Serra i Martí, unknown to most Barcelonians, is a pleasant surprise. In Gràcia, walking from the Jardins de Pere Calders to Parc Güell, which is worth a full day's visit, takes less than fifteen minutes. A walk along Gran Via de Carles III can be taken as a brisk exercise or as a lazy stroll, depending on what you feel up to. Whatever you choose, you should look towards the hills once in a while and at the end of the walk you'll have a good view of the 288.4m Collserola TV tower.
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The next challenge: the half-covering of Gran Via
The next big covering operation for a fast route is underway on the stretch of Gran Via between Plaça de Les Glòries and Carrer de Extremadura. In this case it is only a half-covering, because part of Gran Via will remain visible. The project calls for the construction of an ingenious projecting roof that will cover most of the road and be equipped with noise-absorbing screens. In this semi-tunnel, vehicles will run alongside one of the lines of the new Trambaix and car parking. At ground level, the half-covering of Gran Via will permit the creation of a 2km promenade with green areas and children's playgrounds.
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The sounds of the city
Car horns, motorbikes, dogs, music, voices and hundreds of mobile phone melodies: In a city like Barcelona there are millions of different noises that, depending on the volume, can prove quite annoying, even damaging to our health. Thus, one of the growing concerns of city councils is how to contain noise pollution. With the aim of achieving tolerable noise levels, 55 to 65 decibels, 60% of the streets of Barcelona have been paved with noise-absorbing asphalt. However, in addition to these public initiatives, reducing noise pollution is also up to the individual, for instance, in the correct use of private vehicles and the control of certain types of behaviour in pavement cafés and bars, especially at night.
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