THE SUNDAY GUEST. “My work ends where politics begins”: Salvador Nunez, uncompromising highway worker

THE SUNDAY GUEST. “My work ends where politics begins”: Salvador Nunez, uncompromising highway worker

Salvador Nunez, operational director of Vinci Autoroutes: the challenges of rewriting motorway routes in the region. Midi Libre – MICHAEL ESDOURRUBAILH

The operational director of Vinci Autoroutes has been shaping the routes of the motorway cordons in the south of France for many years. For this enthusiast of engineering and bullfighting, with a friendly but strong character, history is often written as it was imagined.

For those who approach him with a certain perspective, the man is delightful company. He handles humor and derision like others handle wooden language. Salvador Nunez has this very pronounced Latin nature. The Andalusian that he is, by his origins, keeps within him this very Mediterranean trait of expression. Born in Morocco around sixty years ago, he cultivates both cultures to perfection. "I was born and raised in Casablanca, from a 100% Andalusian family, a bit like thoroughbreds", he explains.

While he is particularly proud of it, the operational director of Vinci Autoroutes likes to tell how it was adopted by Languedoc. "I appreciate when some people, and this happens to me more and more, consider that I am from here. People say that to me often and it's a very nice compliment, he says, his eyes shining. "It's all the more flattering since, since I moved to the region, I've made the effort to make myself take an interest in this territory, invest in it and defend it. It's like some kind of reward.

"I moved the A9, I will not move the Montpellier"

For Languedoc, Salvador Nunez was "born" in 2007. Commissioned by the large public works group to carry out the doubling of the A9 motorway at the level of a saturated Montpellier urban area. This "atypical product"as he describes himself, due to the diversity of his origins, he blends very quickly into the local landscape. "It's a region where I very quickly felt good, he comments. This is the place that, somehow, most resembles where I come from. He is endearing".

He even felt so good there that he ended up getting married there. And even though retirement is slowly approaching, the land of Languedoc has become his adopted land. Maybe leave one day ? "I got married to a woman from Montpellier, he replies with a big smile. Uprooting a woman from Montpellier for 4 or 5 generations…..". It's mission impossible. "I moved the A9, but I will not move the Montpellieraine. There are things that are not feasible.

Projects that sound like challenges

More seriously, in recent years, man has become the one closely linked to the region's urban upheavals. And even beyond. Because, while finalizing the doubling of the A9, delivered on the eve of the big vacation departures in the summer of 2017, it was undertaking, at the same time, an equally imposing project, that of the ;motorway entrance to Toulon, in the Var. A project, on which he is still working, and which continues to mark him. And not just because it reached 300 million.

"It was something that was quite new, to do all these things at the same time, in close proximity or within a major city", he said. "There was a set of things to do, which made the investment very heavy and the result satisfactory". After having widened the motorway axis at the Pertuis border, towards Spain, after having taken up the challenge of the A 709 at Montpellier, he now pilots ;today a very ambitious project. "A construction site like that of Toulon, which should be completed by 2025, I've never known one so complicated& ;quot;, he admits.

"I'm interested in those we don'hear in the media"

And since this Gemini ("I don't know my ascendant because in all the birth certificates in Morocco that I have seen, there is no time of birth" ) likes challenges, here he is still engaged in a double parallel life, the particularly sensitive one of the Montpellier Western Bypass (COM). He is responsible for creating the future route which will connect the A 750 motorway to the A9. As with A 709, he must fight to complete a mission "entrusted by the State, in a logic of general interest&quot ;.

There he goes again on a crusade, his bag full of arguments, facing those who are armed with the noise of the opposition. And it doesn't come apart. As usual. "Explaining what I do to all those who ask, who insist and who insist again, I consider it part of my job, begins -he by develop. I spend most of my time explaining the projects, making people understand their benefits and explaining how we are going to carry them out. He assumes: "I'm interested in those who'we don'hear in the media" .

"My work ends where politics begins"

Justify yourself again and again: Salvador Nunez is well-versed from this point of view. "Because it is the people to whom I speak directly who are most often the first to be affected and often also, they constitute the largest number. But where he least wants to make the effort to explain, "this is when I deal with people who have political postures, marked by dogmatic approaches". And there, faced with this category of interlocutors, "that doesn't interest me, because if I start to become interested in it, I will start playing politics. And for me, my work ends exactly where politics begins.

So, obviously, with politicians, the relationship can sometimes turn out to be complex. "My job is to do, on behalf of the public authorities , territorial planning, he insists. I realize what the politician has decided". And when it is pointed out to him that politicians are above all elected representatives of the people, he does not hesitate. "I am a Republican, when an elected official asks me, I always respond positively. When I go, as with the COM, to meet the mayors concerned, I notice that not a single one told me that they were against this project. There is therefore an awareness of their usefulness.

"If it is necessary to take up arms to defend aficion, we will take them"

Behind the remark lies something unsaid, that of the management of political double discourse. "We are sometimes confronted with all the media coverage of certain elected officials, some of whom are part of the governance of the Montpellier Metropolis, who are far from constituting the majority, he slips. We can be against a project, but, as we are in the Republic and the decision has been made to carry out the project, we are working, we are moving forward". For him, "the only entity that can make the decision not to do is the same one that decided to do. This is the State. We therefore cannot stop every time there is a negative opinion expressed.

We understand: man is not the type to let himself be intimidated. Nor to hide behind his little finger. Like on February 11, 2023, when this enthusiast of bulls, horses and the Camargue took to the streets (one of the rare times for him) to defend Camargue traditions. "I would do it again if I had to. It's still quite strong: we should stop taking advantage of things we love, of our passion, under the pretext that there is people who disagree. But in what country are we ?". He says it plainly, in a great burst of laughter: "If we have to take up arms to defend aficion, we will take them".

I subscribe to read more

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

(function(d,s){d.getElementById("licnt2061").src= ";r"+escape(d.referrer)+ ((typeof(s)=="undefined")?"":";s"+s.width+"*"+s.height+"*"+ (s.colorDepth?s.colorDepth:s.pixelDepth))+";u"+escape(d.URL)+ ";h"+escape(d.title.substring(0,150))+";"+Math.random()}) (document,screen)