From our little hacienda just up the valley from Jalón, there are three possible ways into the village (or it may be a small town) itself. The primary route is via a road bridge over the Riu Xaló [Jalón river]. The bridge is a single track road bridge, which causes a few minor traffic holdups though we’ve never witness any severe problems with the necessary alternating traffic flow. However, the bridge is now out of commission for the duration of a project to widen it to allow 2-way traffic. Work is supposed to be finished by the end of March but we won’t be holding our breath.
A little further downstream of the Riu Xaló is the preferred alternative route via a ford through the river. Normally here, the river bed looks very dry, with just a few remaining pools of standing water. I think there is a small flow because it reappears at some distance downstream beyond the valley, but what little water there is apparently flows underground. When the river flow increases slightly, there is a pipe under the ford’s cobbled surface, which normally copes with the increased flow. This morning, as I set off to get some bathroom mirrors [yes, more shopping], the pipe was not coping and a certain amount of water was flowing over the cobbled surface of the ford. Well, it is, after all, a ford, so why not? The rainwater from last night’s downpours had clearly been draining off the mountains in the upper valley and had reached the river, increasing the flow. I drove off to complete my thrill-packed shopping trip.
When I returned, the ford had been closed to traffic. Both the main route and the preferred alternative route into town were now out of commission. This ford closure may seem somewhat over cautious, it is a ford, after all, and fords are normally covered in water for the traffic to drive through, aren’t they? Well, yes, they are, but here’s the thing. During extreme weather events, cars have been known to be swept off this particular ford by the flood of water and carried downstream. If some twat takes it upon themselves to drive through the ford while it’s dangerously inundated and when there is a safer alternative, they have themselves to blame, perhaps. Now, though, with the closure of the safer main route and a council-arranged diversion through the ford, maybe the local authorities would be liable if someone ended up floating off downstream towards Lliber? Or maybe it was just over cautious. 😉
In any event, all the traffic needing to pass through Jalón in either direction, was now forced to use the one remaining route through, a small, rather tortuous side road running along the northern bank of the river and eventually over another single track bridge. There are several sections of this last remaining route that are too narrow for two cars to pass each other, consequently there are several bottlenecks. With no traffic flow control in place, you may be able to imagine the difficulties that resulted.
We didn’t quite hit gridlock but it wouldn’t have taken much, I think.