By Jack Arnhold, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Work on the Line 3 extension to the VLT in Centro appears to have come to a stop, leaving an unfinished construction site on Avenida Marechal Floriano since the beginning of the year. Construction has reportedly been stopped to allow for impact studies on two archaeological sites in the area.
The road has been closed since January, but conditions have now deteriorated further as construction workers and machinery that were removed for the Carnival break in February haven’t returned since. Local residents and merchants say that is negatively affecting nearby businesses and the safety of the area.
The VLT (Vehicle on Light Tracks) was inaugurated in June 2016 as part of the revitalization of the port area. Inspired by the old trams that were common in the city until the 1960s, it connects important transport hubs, such as the Santos Dumont airport and Rodoviária bus terminal, with the city center and central train station.
Spokespeople for the construction company have claimed that the pause in progress is due to its traversing an area of local archaeological interest, for which a license is required from the Institute for National Artistic and Historical Heritage (IPHAN).
According to IPHAN, the reason why a license is required is due to the proposed construction impacting both the Santa Rita cemetery and the São Joaquim Church, two sites of historical interest, as well as some listed buildings on the street.
What was supposed to be the final extension on the VLT network that would connect the city’s Central station to Candelária Cathedral now looks like little more than a disorganized patch of rubble.
“Even the barriers that served to protect the workers and prevent people from getting into the construction site have been removed. It’s all abandoned and could cause an accident,” Anderson Pereira Cruz, who works on the corner of Avenida Passos, recently told local news outlet O Globo.
Adding, “It is irresponsible to start such work and just stop. We have to complain. You can not just leave it like this.”
Officials have announced that the inspection by IPHAN should be completed sometime this month, with construction still projected to be finished by December of this year.