Para O “underground” de Ipanema, clique aqui
In the current runup to the second round of voting for governors and president here, one sometimes envies the ostrich.
So, on receiving an invitation to visit the Metrô construction site under the Praça Nossa Senhora da Paz, this blogger dallied not. Duly clad in boots, helmet and mask, down she went.
There’s been a lot of controversy about Line 4, the extension of a subway line that now ends at Praça General Osório. Residents and business owners on Rua Barão da Torre complain about craters, tremors, cracks, cuts in cable TV, gas, water and electricity service, dust and noise.
Before the work began, issues such as where the line should run, the location of stations and the fate of the praça’s beautiful trees were hotly debated. Even now, there are doubts regarding ridership. Will the concessionaire be able to meet demand? Passengers on the new Transoeste BRT, a dedicated lane for articulated buses deal daily with crowding. The problem has long existed in the São Paulo metrô system.
Clearly, the state government knew exactly what it wanted to do.
In early 2012, the construction consortium closed Praça Nossa Senhora da Paz, a green area that held a special place in residents’ hearts. Just over two years later, a large portion of the square was reopened.
The work is happening, the trains are coming in from China, and it looks like the South Zone-Barra connection, whether or not in overcrowded cars, will be made incredibly quickly — in 15 minutes, it’s said (and from Barra to downtown, in 34 minutes) — in the first half of 2016. Just in time for the Olympic Games, set for August.
According to the concessionaire, Line 4 will take about 2,000 cars off the city’s streets at rush hour.
The Metrô is a state concession to the Invepar consortium, made up of the OAS construction company and the pension funds of the employees of the Banco do Brasil (Previ),Caixa Econômica Federal (Funcef) and Petrobras (Petros). Invepar also runs the Linha Amarela highway, the Ligação Transolímpica (an express bus lane linking Barra da Tijuca to Deodoro, where part of the Olympics will be held) and the new trolley line (VLT) set to link the port area to downtown Rio.
Line 4 is being built between Barra and Gávea by the consortium Rio Barra S.A., made up of Queiroz Galvão Participações – Concessões S.A., Odebrecht Participações e Investimentos S.A. and Zi Participações S.A. The first two are top Brazilian construction companies.
In the South Zone, the construction consortium is Linha 4 Sul (L4S), composed of the same companies.
The independent journalism site Pública has reported on the power of construction companies in Rio de Janeiro and nationwide. The information provided is complex and difficult to wade through. The fact is that in this sector (and others), the country has a small number of companies — and not much competition. Apparently, this has led to controversial issues regarding contracts, the use of public monies and donations to political parties.
How might this be changed (At least one interesting case can be found in U.S. history)?
The underground visit in Ipanema offered evidence that we will have a bigger and better Metrô, as of 2016. Perhaps Barra will become more integrated with the South Zone, and vice versa.
In the end it was good to return to the earth’s surface, remove mask, helmet and boots, and put aside the attractions of ostrich life. At this electoral moment — and after — it’s also good to pay close attention to the transformation of metropolitan Rio de Janeiro.