By George Utley, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – It was announced on June 11th that the installation of 400 meters of track in the first tunnel to be completed for the new Metrô Linha 4 (Subway Line 4) were laid. It is a major milestone as when completed, the new line will consist of six new underground stations, linking both Gávea and Ipanema in Zona Sul (South Zone) to Barra da Tijuca in Zona Oeste (West Zone,) where the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Park is located.
The tracks have been laid in the tunnel that links Barra with São Conrado – it is the largest tunnel in the world that has been dug through rock between two metro stations. Another 300 meters of track will be laid every week.
At São Conrado, the station has been completely excavated and platforms are in the final stage of completion, with only the installation of electrics in the control centers to be finished. Further along, engineers have completed the tunnels up until the point where they will split in two, with one side heading to Gávea, the other towards Leblon.
Work will not begin at Gávea or Antero de Quental until the tunnel has been dug out, first from the earth and then from the rock. Continuing along the line, buildings surrounding Jardim de Alah are covered with protective sheets as the station begins to rise from the surface.
At Nossa Senhora da Paz in Ipanema, works on the platforms are almost complete, and it is hoped that the walkways at surface level will be accessible to the public next month. Foundations are already also in place for the station to be excavated below the ground.
The closest station to the Olympic Park in Barra will be Jardim Oceânico, where two of the passenger walkways have already been connected to the canter of the station. To prevent groundwater flooding, a customized waterproof blanket envelops the station, as it lies only two meters above the water table. In Barra, foundations have already been laid for the cable-stayed bridge which will cross the Joatinga Canal.
A huge, German engineered Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM, locally known as the “Tatuzão”) is being used to excavate approximately sixteen kilometers of underground tunnels required for the extension of the line. The TBM has been blamed for disruptions in the Ipanema area, interfering with a major telephone line and causing buildings to sink on Rua Barão de Torre.
A statement from the consortium in charge of the works, Concesionario Rio Barra S/A confirmed: “After the sinking of the ground which occurred on the morning of May 11 on Rua Barao da Torre, the construction of the tunnel between Ipanema and Gávea will be temporarily suspended, until we have serviced the earth with cement injections to make it cohesive again.” Work is expected to recommence in this area in early August, and, with 400 meters of the track already completed, the consortium still expects to deliver the service on schedule, at the beginning of 2016.
Lapa resident Paula Souza told The Rio Times, “The new station at General Osório has changed my life since it opened, I used to always go to Leme but recently I’ve been to Ipanema every time because it’s so much more accessible now.” However, the opening of Line 4 will bring the number of metro stations in Rio up to just 42, a far cry from New York’s 468 or over 270 in London.
It is expected that Line 4 will be used by up to 300,000 passengers per day, reducing journey time from Barra to Ipanema to fifteen minutes, and Barra to Centro to 34 minutes. The six new stations will be; Jardim Oceânico, São Conrado, Gávea, Antero de Quental, Jardim de Alah and Nossa Senhora da Paz.