By Joanna Hansford, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – A new suspension bridge, the “Ponte estaiada da Barra da Tijuca” was opened to the public last Tuesday morning, December 24th, after an inauguration ceremony and blessing led by the Archbishop of Rio, Dom Orany Tempesta. Approximately 900 meters in length, the bridge links Barra da Tijuca to the International Airport along Avenida Aryton Senna, forming part of the BRT Transcarioca.
The structure, named after the Cardinal Dom Eugênio Salles aims to improve the traffic from Linha Amarela (Yellow Line) and Jacarepaguá to Barra da Tijuca. The opening of the bridge has eliminated the traffic lights at the connection of Avenida Aryton Senna with Avenida Embaixador Abelardo Bueno.
According to the Secretária Municipal de Obras, 85 percent of the necessary works have been completed in the construction of the Transcarioca corridor. Eduardo Paes, the mayor of Rio de Janeiro, has said that the Transcarioca corridor will be inaugurated at various points along its length during the first months of 2014. The section between Barra and Taquara will be the first to open.
Fifty-six steel cables were used in the construction of the new suspension bridge which is open to those traveling by car in the direction of Linha Amarela/Cidade de Deus towards Barra. For those traveling by the BRT bus, the bridge is open in both directions.
With 184 posts along the bridge lit with the light of 184 lamps containing color filters, the structure will be a spectacle after sunset. In celebration of the holiday season, at night the bridge is currently lit red and green.
Bruno Laccarino, a music teacher in Barra says that, “the traffic has improved, but it’s still bad.” Alexandre Pinto, of the Secretária Municipal de Obras has confirmed that the bridge cost R$120 million. He also guarantees that the BRT Transcarioca project will be fully completed before the World Cup in June 2014.
The mayor of Rio de Janeiro is also reported to have said, “The Transcarioca is a passage through this city of contrasts,” referring to the new route which passes through both richer neighborhoods and poorer suburbs of the city.
However, the presence of Eduardo Paes at the inauguration ceremony was an opportunity to clarify the cost of city travel in 2014, specifically, the bus prices which had sparked public outrage earlier this year. While the increase in bus travel was set to increase, in agreement with contracts made between Rio Ônibus and the state, the mayor has said that it is necessary to wait for and respect the conclusion of the analysis made by the Tribunal de Contas do Município.
The Transcarioca line is slated to run 39km from the Penha district to Barra da Tijuca. Costing an estimated R$1.3 billion with a total of 45 stations, three terminals, nine bridges and ten viaducts.