By Michela DellaMonica, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL — It was decided in the late afternoon on Sunday, May 11th that the Metro subway construction of Linha 4 (Line 4) will be suspended in Ipanema until the cause of the opening of crater on Rua Barao da Torre is identified. Municipal Secretary of Civil Defense Márcio Mott led the meeting on Sunday along with the Consortium of Line 4 and technicians from city hall.
At the meeting, Mott questioned the fact that the construction problems have been reported primarily by residents of the area, when, according to the emergency plan, the Consortium should have been reporting on the occurrence itself. The requirement of the Civil Defense is the presentation of security measures for continuity of the project.
Production manager of the construction of Line 4, Aloísio Coutinho Júnior, confidently states that there is no risk of collapse of the buildings on Rua Barao da Torre. According to representative of the Consortium, teams have stopped digging and are now focusing on cleaning and monitoring the site.
A press release issued by the Civil Defense stated that reviews were carried out for buildings 132, 135, 137 and 138 on Rua Barao da Torre, which are located near the construction site, had two open craters on the sidewalk had no evidence of structural risk for the buildings.
According to Júnior, the cause of the sinking of the street is being studied and possible damages to the residents will be paid. He assured that the situation is under control and furthermore, the construction company offered rooms in hotels for residents who do not feel safe.
The Rio state government officials stated early on Monday, May 12th that there is no risk to the structural properties of Rua Barao da Torre. Chief of Staff, Leonardo Espindola, reported that interrupted water and gas supply will be normalized within 24 hours and the end result of Line 4 will continue to be projected and maintained for the first half of 2016.
Residents of the area took to Twitter with questions after the meeting when a woman asked if it was normal that the crater opened up on the sidewalk of the street and got the following response by the Civil Defense: “There is nothing normal, so we set the interruption of the excavation until the causes and guarantees for the continuation of the works are presented.”
“I am not surprised that there is a problem of this type and I am sure there will be more, since any construction project of this magnitude is likely to have some problems and interruptions,” says Sam Flowers, owner of Gringo Cafe which is located on Rua Barao Torre. “The street has already been closed since August 2013 so there should be no additional impact than what we are already feeling.”
Experts warn of the possibility of new pot holes in Ipanema and suggest that further studies should be performed in construction areas of the Line 4 South to assess the risks to buildings and residents. Civil engineer and expert, Roberto Lozinsky, thinks the sinking of sidewalks and pot holes may result from softening in the soil caused by construction or a burst pipe that wasn’t brought to attention.
According to architect Canagé Vilhena, the problem in Ipanema reveals that there are gaps in supervision, both by those who perform the work and those who are monitoring the process. “This accident could have been avoided with more oversight. Security needs to be provided for residents, pedestrians and workers.”
Line 4 will run for ten miles (16km) between Zona Sul (South Zone) and Barra da Tijuca – home of the 2016 Olympics; work was initially expected to finish in December 2015, and the line open to the public in June 2016, two months before the start of the Games.
Construction of this line started in June 2010, and once opened though the line will carry over 300,000 people a day and take some 2,000 vehicles off busy roads at peak times. However by 2012 it was announced the construction cost for Line 4, will amount to R$8.5 billion (US$4 billion), seventy percent more than the R$5 billion (US$2.4 billion) first estimated.