By Joanna Hansford, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Elevado da Perimetral highway was finally completely closed on Saturday, January 25th at 10PM, and since then, several re-direction changes to tackle the traffic have been put into place. The changes have been rolled out in phases by CET-RJ, the Rio transit authority, and made public via the Porto Maravilha project portal.
Mayor of the city of Rio de Janeiro, Eduardo Paes has said “These are large changes, we are asking the population to make an important sacrifice or adjustment to your routines. The modifications are important and necessary for alterations in the mobility in and around Centro.”
Initially the direction of traffic was inverted on Rua Uruguaiana between Rua Acre and Buenos Aire, Avenida República do Paraguai has been given two lanes in the direction towards Lapa, Rua Teixeira de Freitas, between Avenida República do Paraguai and Avenida Augusto Severo is towards the coast.
The direction of traffic flow on both Rua do Passeio between Luiz de Vasconcelos and Teixeira de Freitas, and Rua Mestre Valentim between Teixeira de Freitas and Luiz de Vasconcelos was also reversed. While all along Avenida Marehan Floriano there will be two lanes, one lane for each direction.
Next, on February 1st changes were initiated on Avenida Rio Branco between Presidente Vargas and Praça Mauá, changing the direction of transport to toward Praça Mauá. The council of Rio de Janeiro advised that public transport will be prioritized during expected heavy traffic. Furthermore, no parking will be allowed on any newly re-directed roads.
The closure of Avenida Rio Branco to cars was set to take place on February 8th, but has been postponed. According to Ancelmo Gois’s blog, the council has decided to change the date to February 16th, when road work alterations will begin in Centro.
Mergulhão da Praça Quinze (XV) will also be closed as part of the closure of Elevado da Perimetral, which began Saturday, January 25th. The changes began on February 8th include the opening of two lanes for the exclusive use of buses and taxis on Rio Branco.
A total of two lanes open in the direction towards the Candalária, and three in the direction toward Aterro do Flamengo were also supposed to take place. Vehicles from this point onwards, would be unable to use the ‘turn around’ side lane. The closure of Mergulhão da Praça Quinze at the same time is expected to help reduce the traffic in the area, during the changes.
The closure of the Perimetral before finishing the works on alternative routes in the city was heavily criticized because it caused serious complications in the resulting traffic. The work on the port rejuvenation project is set to finish in 2016. These works involve the construction of a Via Expressa (Express Road) that will substitute the Perimetral.
Also planned is the largest urban tunnel in Brazil with over three thousand meters in length, the Via Expressa, which will span over 5,000 meters and have three lanes in each direction. Residents of Rio de Janeiro have been urged to use public transport where possible, and extended Metro (subway) hours have been announced, along with new detour and parking rule updates.