By Lisa Flueckiger, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The construction of Rio’s latest transportation infrastructure, the VLT (Veículo Leve sobre Trilhos – Light Vehicle on Tracks) in Avenida Rio Branco, one of the main avenues in Centro, have unearthed pieces of pavement from the 19th century.
The VLT construction has been halted in order to remove the colonial pieces. The best preserved areas that were found near Cinelandia square are currently being unearthed and will then be extracted by archeological specialists supervised by Rio’s Institute for National Heritage IPHAN.
“Until now we found at least twenty pieces that could be the pavement of buildings from the 19th century in this area, such as commerce, residential buildings and tenements,” Erika Gonzalez, general coordinator of the archeological program of the VLT explained to O Globo.
She added, that they had expected to find something underneath Rio Branco, but didn’t know in which state the pieces would be.
Plans have already surfaced to exhibit the found pavements to the public later. One of the ideas is to make it part of the sidewalks in Rio Branco after the VLT construction has been completed. However, it is not yet clear of how much value the found pieces are and from when exactly they are.
“We haven’t evaluated the type of material found so far. In some places, remains of residences were found. There is also the possibility that we find the “pé de moleque” (loose, irregular cobblestone) type of pavement,” Marcela Andrade, archeological technician of Iphan, explained.
The VLT is planned to connect Centro with city airport Santos Dumont and it is estimated that 32 trains will operate on six lines and transport approximately 285,000 passengers per day. Completion of the work on the VLT lines is scheduled for 2016 before the Olympics and Paralympics Games begin in Rio.