By Chesney Hearst, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Construction is underway on Ponte Estaiada do Fundão, a Cable-Styled bridge that will span 400m across Guanabara Bay between Ilha do Fundão and Ilha do Governador in Zona Norte (North Zone). Leaving the existing access for passenger cars, the new bridge will be exclusively for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) buses as part of the Transcarioca corridor.
One of four BRT Olympic initiative projects set to connect the major areas in which the 2016 Rio Olympic Games will take place, the Transcarioca corridor will link Tom Jobim International (GIG) Airport to the neighborhood of Barra da Tijuca, where a majority of the Games are scheduled to occur.
Two other ongoing BRT projects, the Transolimpic and Transbrasil lines, will connect Barra da Tijuca to Deodoro and Deodoro to the regional airport of Santos Dumont Airport respectively. The recently inaugurated Transoeste line connects Barra to Campo Grande, west of the city.
The Transcarioca line’s Ponte Estaiada do Fundão is one of nine planned bridges for the corridor. As a Cable-Stayed bridge, it is classified as consisting of one or more support columns or pylons, with cables supporting the deck.
Chief Engineer Eduardo Fagundes sited environmental concerns when discussing the use of two pylons for the bridge. Saying on the Cidade Olímpica website, “We managed to eliminate at least four lines of pillars. Therefore, we won’t leave anything dirty, won’t hurt the environment.”
The possible impact of the bridge to Guanabara Bay was a concern from the initiation of the project with an environmental license from the Environmental Institute being required before the project began.
The flight paths of aircraft to and from nearby Tom Jobim International Airport also had to be taken into consideration during the design and building of the bridge. The bridge itself could not be too high nor could the cranes and other equipment used during it’s construction.
The connection of the Rio’s international airport to Barra da Tijuca is a major step in linking parts of the city through increased access to public transportation. As a corridor connecting two areas that will be very active during the games, the exclusive BRT lines should help to ease overall traffic in congested areas.
Residents of and commuters through one suburb of Rio de Janeiro, Madureira, tentatively await the changes the BRT line might bring to their community. With its location in the Zona Norte, the hopes the Transcarioca construction brings are that of improved traffic flow and increased accessibility to and from other regions.
Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes said during the commencement of construction ceremony for the corridor, “I have no doubt that the biggest transformation the city is undergoing is in the area of mobility. Because a city that doesn’t have good transportation is a bad city. This [BRT] is not for the Olympics, it’s not just for the World Cup; rather, it’s for the city and the people, who suffer every day with Rio’s transportation.”
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, construction is projected to be completed by December 2013.