By Michela DellaMonica, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – As the 2016 Olympic Games will take place in four different zones spread across Rio de Janeiro – Barra, Copacabana, Deodoro, and Maracanã – an improved transportation system has been a crucial focus for the city. One of these transportation systems being built is the Transcarioca highway, which officials announced last week (March 12th) is now 88 percent complete.
The Transcarioca is part of the larger BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) planned for the city, and is set to connect Barra da Tijuca, (which will host more than fifty percent of the sporting competitions), to the Galeão – Antônio Carlos Jobim (GIG) International Airport.
In addition to the cable-hinged bridge along the Transcarioca, which opened in December 2013, Rio city officials have already finalized other important structures on the Transcarioca route including the Clara Nunes underpass in Campinho, the extension of Madureira viaduct (Negrão de Lima); the extension of João XXIII viaduct in Penha, Billy Blanco underpass in Barra (close to Cidade das Artes cultural complex), the underpass close to Lourenço Jorge Municipal Hospital (also located in Barra), and the bridge over Fundão canal.
The Transcarioca is 39 kilometers in length and will include 45 bus stations stopping at Curicica, Ilha do Governador, Taquara, Tanque, Praça Seca, Campinho, Madureira, Vaz Lobo, Vicente de Carvalho, Vila da Penha, Penha, Olaria and Ramos neighborhoods. An estimated 320,000 people are expected to use this BRT on a daily basis.
“The system will reduce travel time between Ilha do Governador and Barra, the Games’ central zone, by more than sixty percent,” explained Rio 2016 Transportation Manager Paulo Cavalcanti in a public statement.
Throughout its construction, neighborhoods of Jacarepagua in Zona Oeste (West Zone) and Madureira in Zona Norte (North Zone) have experienced heavy traffic jams, but once the Transcarioca is complete, it is projected that there will be an easier traffic system in place and also relief of flooding in these areas.
“Every construction project creates an inconvenience, but the community will gain wider sidewalks, better asphalt and end flooding points due to drainage works,” assures chief engineer of the Municipal Secretariat for Construction Works, Eduardo Fagundes.
Two other ongoing BRT projects, the Transolimpica and Transbrasil lines, will connect Barra da Tijuca to Deodoro and Deodoro to the regional airport of Santos Dumont Airport respectively. The Transoeste line connects Barra to Campo Grande, west of the city.
Earlier this year, President Rousseff announced a planned joint investment of R$143 billion in public transportation, committing a further R$50 billion to her R$93 billion Urban Mobility Pact, which she had announced in the wake of last year’s social unrest.
The President also pledged R$33 billion in federal government money to the expansion and creation of metro (subway train) networks in nine Brazilian cities, including Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Salvador, Recife, Fortaleza, Brasília, Curitiba, Porto Alegre and Belo Horizonte (which are all also World Cup host cities).