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Colomiers. The revival of Val d’Aran without a footbridge

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The demolition of the footbridge that connects the Val d’Aran district to the city center marks the start of a major urban renewal project that will change the image of the city.

Usually, to connect people, bridges are built. Colomiers has nevertheless chosen to destroy the Val d’Aran footbridge in order to better open the district to the city centre. Two enormous mechanical shovels with steel teeth thus began, yesterday, the destruction of a symbolic passage and in charge of history.

“The demolition of the footbridge will last two weeks”, explains Estelle Gautier of the EGIS design office, in charge of the site. “We are going to start with the Val d’Aran side and continue with the part of the city center. After eight months of work, we are planning a return to service for the first quarter of 2023”. By then, the necessary arrangements will have been made to cross rue du Général de Gaulle in complete safety. “We are going to create a shared space where the pedestrian will have priority”, adds Julien Mithieux, director of the Interland urban planning agency which is also working on the redevelopment of the full center. “If necessary, a flashing light will be installed to secure the crossing of pedestrians”. A measure confirmed by Karine Traval-Michelet, mayor of Colomiers but “only at the request of pedestrians” because “traffic is done very well in Colomiers without traffic lights”. The mayor also took the opportunity to recall that: “The Val d’Aran district was built in the 1960s to support the development of aeronautics. It was necessary to rehabilitate it today”. A vast project entrusted to the social landlord Altéal whose general manager Philippe Trantoul believes that it has “meaning because it mixes housing with the development of the district”.

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80 million euros will be devoted to the rehabilitation of the Val d’Aran. 30 M€ will be invested by Altéal, 20 M€ by Toulouse Métropole, 20 M€ by the town hall of Colomiers. The remaining €10 million is provided by the ANRU (€8.7 million), the Occitanie region (€1.8 million) and the departmental council €600,000.

The inhabitants associated with the transformation

At a time when the renovation of the Val d’Aran district is taking shape, a certain nostalgia mixes with joy and invades the Columérins. An emblematic figure of the city, the Val d’Aran footbridge is bowing out.

To make this event more festive, many activities were offered for a week. They follow the multiple workshops coordinated during the last quarter of 2021 by the Bavard.es collective, made up of Lison Dôme and Hugo Leprince. Invited in residence by the city of Colomiers, they explored the district, listening, pens or brushes to collect memories related to the footbridge and its close environment. All these testimonies allowed the co-creation of a fanzine with the inhabitants, reflecting a changing neighborhood. Also, at the Val d’Aran Citizens’ House, children and adults have built scale models of footbridges reflecting their vision of the one that has been part of the landscape for four decades.

Last Saturday, these models were symbolically destroyed. Idriss, 7 years old, an experienced demolisher came with his mother Eloïse and grandmother Evelyne. Three generations gathered for the occasion.

“We have been living in Colomiers for more than 30 years”, specifies Evelyne. “This largely flowered footbridge was more than a connection to the city center, it was an integral part of the landscape”.

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Happy with this renovation too, Eloïse adds: “It’s a big change in a short time. I lived in the recently demolished building, this footbridge I called it the snail.”

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