By Kendall Clark, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL- The Porto Maravilha (Marvelous Port) project is well underway with the final section of the elevated Perimetral highway, along Rua Rodrigues Alves, scheduled to be demolished in the coming weeks. The removal of last section of the 5.5km Perimetral highway has altered traffic routes in the heavily traveled area and will continue to affect commuters until mid-September.
Commuters and motorists will continue to be affected by the thirty-day traffic detour, which began Friday, August 15th. Before demolition, traffic was concentrated on the lanes between Praça Mauá and Rua Souza e Silva running parallel to aging office buildings and abandon structures.
With current traffic alterations, commuters will travel along three tracks close to the Guanabara Bay, adjacent to the massive seaside warehouses. The modification denies commuters direct access to Avenida Barão de Tefé, a street running perpendicular to Rua Rodrigues Alves with an exit lane that filters into the main avenue in Centro, Avenida Presidente Vargas.
Motorists coming from Praça Mauá, who normally enter Avenida Barão de Tefé, should instead follow Rua Souza e Silva until the intersection of Avenida Venezuela and then continue to Avenida Barão de Tefé. The Rua Rodrigo Alves stretch of highway serves approximately 5,000 vehicles per day in the direction of Centro, according to the Port Regional Urban Development Company (CDURP), the highway was originally constructed between 1950 and 1970 with the intention of supporting 2,000 vehicles.
The displacement of 5,000 vehicles to alternative routes would appear to be inconvenient to commuters. However, one day after the onset of the new traffic amendment, O Globo reported the traffic to be ‘fine’. With the new project, a new road network will integrate the Port area with the Centro and nearby neighborhoods, and increase the flow capacity of traffic by forty percent, according to CDURP.
The entire Perimetral highway area will be transformed into two new lanes with state-of-the-art technology to accommodate 10,500 vehicles per hour and foresee potential traffic problems. Two tunnels will be built along the Via Binário do Porto, a series of high-speed roads, to further reduce congestion on the dense commuter traffic.
The avenues below the elevated Rodrigues Alves Perimetral will become a 4km long expressway with three tracks and an access lane for emergency personnel. The expressway will not intersect with the Port’s lanes, which would likely cause traffic build-up.
A new avenue will run parallel to the 4km expressway and will be responsible for the Port’s main traffic. “From what I see in the planning, Rio de Janeiro is going to be a fantastically different city after the Olympic Games, says Deputy Sports Minister Luis Fernandes, “we will absolutely have a renewed and modern city.”
Changing traffic patterns is only one part of the Port’s transformation. The project plans to revitalize the port area into world-class business and residential spaces with a new science museum designed by famous architect Santiago Calatrava, leisure areas with bike paths and shopping centers, and a light-rail transit line.