By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – After repeated postponements, the government now says the Line 4 access to Gávea will be ready in 2018, but has not specified what month. Although the funding source for the final stage of the planned subway line is unclear, the state secretary of transportation, Rodrigo Vieira said yesterday that even if he had the R$489 million needed, it would not be possible to resume work at the time.
“The works are not delayed because of money. If I had the funds now, I would not know what to do with it. […] we had to change the design of the Gávea Station, to have a single platform. […] The metro studies are time consuming,” said the secretary.
The new 16km-long Metro Line 4 opened on August 1st to limited Olympic use after nearly twenty years in the making. There are five new stations opened: Jardim Oceânico (in Barra da Tijuca), São Conrado/Rocinha, Antero de Quental, Jardim de Alah, and Nossa Senhora da Paz, which connect with Ipanema’s General Osorio station that was opened in 2009.
The sixth station drawn into the original plans is Gávea, but as early as 2014 it was announced that the station would not be ready at initial opening. According to Vieira, the project to bring the transport of Leblon to Gávea is being prepared, and the massive underground drilling machine known as Tatuzão is thirty meters deep under Leblon.
The funds for the completion of the work are not yet set, according to an O Globo report, Mr. Vieira explained the government is seeking funding. The issue is that the state is about to exceed the debt limit, which makes the possibility of new loans more difficult. Initially planned at R$5 billion, the works may now reach a total R$9.7 billion, almost double what was expected.
Currently, fourteen buses link the Gávea (from a terminal near PUC) to General Osório Station in Ipanema, covering 4.5 km, with seven-minute intervals. O Globo reports that the government plans to shorten the line to 1.5 kilometers, operating between Gávea and the new Praça Antero de Quental station in Leblon. The change is scheduled for the end of this year, when Line 4 should be running at full capacity.
Director of Urban Residents Association of Alto Gávea, Luiz Fernando Peña told O Globo, “These buses are not a solution. They are slow in rush hours. It is better to have this service than nothing, but it’s a broken leg solution. They forgot that the metro is for the residents and not to make fireworks shows during the Olympics.”
Still, with a sense of accomplishment the secretary Vieira stated that the metro system hit success records, carrying 13.9 million passengers in Lines 1, 2 and 4 between August 5th and 21st. The largest number of passengers took place last Wednesday (August 17th), when 1,121,000 were transported.
Officials say the Metro Line 4 will unite Rio, connect regions and bring improved quality of life to thousands of residents. The Rio de Janeiro state government’s project will transport more than 300,000 people a day, removing approximately 2,000 vehicles from the streets during peak rush hour.