By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – In an effort to accommodate arriving delegates for the Rio+20 Conference, a change was announced for the Linha Vermelha (Red Line) coming from the Tom Jobim (Galeão) International Airport. The highway will have an exclusive lane for heads of state and government, with an estimated seventy percent of delegations arriving on June 18th and 19th.
The current plan is the exclusive lane will start from 5AM Tuesday, June 19th, and also on Friday, June 22nd, another lane will be reserved going towards the airport, from 2PM to 10PM.
The change in plan was announced Wednesday morning by the Centro de Operações Rio (Rio Operations Center) and appears to follow the arrival of the first foreign delegation, who struggled to beat the traffic jams at rush hour.
Even escorted by agents of the Policia Miliatar (PM), the Federal Police and Army soldiers, the Thai delegation took fifty minutes between the airport and the JW Marriott Hotel in Copacabana (a thirty minute drive without traffic).
The delegation of 36 people, headed by Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, Thai heir to the throne, arrived in Rio on a commercial flight at around 8:30AM, one of the busiest times on the freeway.
A meeting between the mayor Eduardo Paes and CET-Rio took place and the Director of Operations at CET-Rio, Joaquim Diniz, considered it normal for last minute changes to occur with a event this size.
“The adjustments that we are studying are for the whole period of the Rio+20 (tomorrow until June 22nd), but we will evaluate what to do.”
The original plan announced on May 29th predicted little change in the routine of the city, and only focused on June 20th, 21st and 22nd. At set times only authorized vehicles, mainly heads of state or government, would be allowed on Avenida Niemeyer – the main route between Zona Sul (South Zone) and Barra da Tijuca.
During this time the city has also announced a school holiday and government offices have the option to be closed on those dates, reducing the movement of cars on the roads. Nevertheless, the mayor advised people to avoid driving the Barra-Zona Sul corridor during these days.
“In these three days, [police] will be opening and closing the route to over 130 heads of state. This obviously creates discomfort for the city. I think that all Cariocas will feel [it…] but in the end, the locals will be proud to receive a conference of this size,” said Paes.
Most official events are in Barra da Tijuca at the convention center Riocentro and Parque dos Atletas (Athletes Park), however delegates and attendees will also be traveling to Zona Sul to the Parque do Flamengo (Flamengo Park) and the Forte de Copacabana (Copacabana Fort).
Read more (in Portuguese).
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