By William Jones, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Metro Rio, the city’s subway system operator, has announced that the Ipanema General Osório station will be reopened next month after almost a year closure due to construction work. The station was shuttered in February, and after ten months, residents and commuters are set to see the pivotal transport option for Ipanema functioning again.
Metro Rio confirmed with The Rio Times that “The General Osório station will be reopened in December.”
Since the closing in February, which also included the Cantagalo station in Copacabana, commuters could only go as far as Siqueira Campos stop via the subway. While the construction has been happening the “Metro on the Surface” buses have connected General Osório and Siqueira Campos.
The closures have taken a toll on the roadways, increased traffic jams and overcrowding buses, especially in Ipanema, where over 30,000 Cariocas were reportedly passing through the General Osório station daily.
“Convenience will improve dramatically for workers in the area and residents who go to Centro. Traffic by foot should also increase significantly on the main streets that lead to the station entrances,” said American expatriate Sam Flowers, owner of Gringo Cafe in Ipanema.
The closure has been part of a major transportation project to extend the Metro system between Zona Sul (South Zone) and Barra da Tijuca, where the majority of the 2016 Olympic Games will be held. Travel time from the beginning of Barra da Tijuca to Ipanema will be reduced from one hour, which is currently only accessible by road, to around 15 minutes, according to Metro Rio planners.
The expansion will also create one additional new station in Ipanema, two in Leblon, one in Gávea, one in São Conrado and one in the beginning of the Barra da Tijuca neighborhood called Jardim Oceanico.
Another current resident of Ipanema, Whitney Pisenti from the United States said: “Ipanema will certainly be more accessible. It should open up the neighborhood and connect the two beaches.”
The Metro Rio extension project includes the construction of new platforms in some of the city stations, and it is expected that 300,000 passengers will benefits from the new line. Last February Rio de Janeiro’s chief secretary of staff, Regis Fichtner, emphasized the importance of these transport developments and hinted that they will be well worth the wait.
In a press release he said: “This transportation’s system efficiency and its importance to Rio de Janeiro’s development are unquestionable. The metro has an enormous carrying capacity and brings benefits to traffic and the environment, removing cars and buses from the street. This is the realization of Rio’s longtime dream.”