Sagrada Familia

Yes, it’s true: we are idiots. Without subterfuge or frills, idiots. Complete idiots, in fact. And the use of the first person plural is a simple courtesy to those who are willing to risk one of the most wonderful monuments in the history of humanity in order to save themselves a detour in the route of a train. In other words, to save a few minutes on a route. Who is capable of such stupidity? Adif, with the approval of the incompetent authorities (the Ministry of Public Works, not to beat around the bush).

Let me be clear: I am talking about the AVE works, the famous AVE building works, which are planned to pass close to the Sagrada Familia. The Expiatory Temple, of incalculable value, has been in the process of construction since the year 1882. It has been announced that the coming 7th of November Pope Benedict XVI will visit Barcelona with the exclusive objective of celebrating the first mass in the Temple, which will thereby draw to a close another stage in its construction (it is calculated that the work will be definitively completed by the year 2020).

Well, you can imagine my surprise when I discovered today that the famous AVE tunnels, those tunnels which have presumably been studied and re-studied by those in charge of the High Speed train building works, will pass very close to Gaudí’s Temple. Specifically, 1.5.... metres away!!
Sección longitudinal Sagrada Familia
Yes, it is true, 1,5 metres. Kilometres? No Sir! M-e-t-r-e-s. If my 12 year old sister were to fall on the floor, she would occupy the safety distance left between the Sagrada Familia and the damn train.

Nowadays, the Temple has a height of 70 metres. According to working predictions, it will measure 170 metres. In any event, I include the statements of Mariano Ribón in the College of Engineers for Paths, Canals and Ports of Cataluña, also author of technical works of great complexity such as the Besós thermal centre. The style is a little telegraphic, but it will do to get an idea of what is planned. You can find more information about his speech on this website.

All those who plan or execute building work must accept a failure probability and, on the basis of it, adopt a safety coefficient. The probability that tends to be adopted is that of 1 / 50.000. It is a small probability, equivalent to winning the lottery, playing one sole number, and it corresponds pretty well with reality. Approximately, one in every 50.000 buildings falls down. The probability of accidents in the construction of tunnels is much higher. The engineers Guy Lance, from the University of London and John Anderson, from the University of Glasgow, have written a report on the incidents suffered, since 1970, in tunnels around the world. Some 2017 tunnels have been built with a total length of 8.750 kilometres and 19 serious incidents have occurred. This means that 0,94 serious incidents have occurred, almost one for every hundred tunnels. The ratio is considerably higher, given that there are many countries, companies and engineers who keep quiet about and hide their failures.

Even so, the probability itself is not enough for making decisions. What is truly important is the mathematical expectation. Mathematical expectation is the probability multiplied by the value of the loss or the profit. The safety coefficient must consequently be set in accordance with the damage that the failure of the building work would cause, and the Temple of the Sagrada Familia has an almost infinite value.

It is, in the judgement of the majority of those who visit it, more than three million people each year, the most sublime and wonderful architecture in the world.

Recently, a hole has opened up close to the works. The authorities deny it. Even so, what is clear is that there is no route, nor minute nor million, nor anything that justifies risking this hundred year-old work. Anything other than this is the work of idiots. Yes, idiots.

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