By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – City officials in Rio de Janeiro announced on Monday (March 7th) that in a little over four months city residents and tourists will be able to ride from Ipanema in Zona Sul (South Zone) to Barra da Tijuca on the metro subway. According to administrators by the middle of the year the Metro Line 4 will be ready to transport more than 300,000 persons per day, withdrawing nearly two thousand vehicles from the roads during rush hour.
According to state officials tests on the line are already being conducted. “Until May all systems will be tested so that in June trains will run on this line and in the following month (July) we will have Line 4 fully operational,” stated Rio de Janeiro Transport Secretary Rodrigo Vieira.
City officials say escalators are currently being installed at São Conrado station to accommodate a flow of up to 61,000 persons per day, including residents of Rocinha.
Ministry of Cities, Gilberto Kassab said on Monday that the combined efforts by the state and federal governments will also help the flow of visitors attending the competitions at the Olympic Arena.
The project, say officials represents the Olympics’ greatest legacy to the city for the transport system. “This is the most emblematic woks of the Olympics for Rio de Janeiro. It will change the lives of many people and save time in traffic,” commented Kassab.
The São Conrado station will be inaugurated along with the Nossa Senhora da Paz station in Ipanema, stations Jardim de Alah and Antero de Quental in Leblon and Jardim Oceanico in Barra da Tijuca. The estimated time to go from São Conrado to Rio’s Centro (Carioca station) by metro is of approximately 27 minutes. The trip by car can last anywhere from thirty minutes to two hours, during rush hour.
At first passengers who take the metro at Barra da Tijuca will have to change trains at the General Osório station in Ipanema in order to continue their journey to Centro since the connection will not have been completed by July. Starting in the beginning of 2017, however, after a testing phase, passengers should be able to make the journey on the same metro train.
With the latest announcement, the Olympic Commission is breathing a sigh of relief. The completion of the Line 4 Metro before the Olympics had been doubted as late as last month when Brazilian news outlet O Globo announced that Rio’s Mayor had sent an email to the IOC stating real possibility that Line 4, would not be ready in time for the Olympic Games, and seeking some alternative solutions.
Plagued by delays and increased costs, in December of 2015, Rio officials signaled the need for an additional R$1 billion by the federal government to complete the Line 4 Metro in time for the Olympics.
Many have hailed the Line 4 Metro as one of the city’s most difficult infrastructure works ever. During the excavation of rock on the stretch between Barra da Tijuca and Leblon, 3,865 tons of explosives were used, the equivalent to the fireworks needed for 161 New Year’s Eve celebrations in Copacabana.
Close to 256,000 m3 of concrete were also used in the tunnel, the same amount as would have been used to build 3.2 Maracanã stadiums in 1950.