Sunday, December 17, 2006

The bridges keep coming 

The other day it was announced that the new viaduct linking Caracas with the coast is now 57% complete. Five of the seven support towers have now been completed and the steel spans between the towers are progressing as can be seen from this picture:

The interesting thing about how this is being built is that the steel spans are constructed on the southern side of the span and then are progressively pushed further our over the support towers. In other words, the beginning of the steel span which you see in the photo started on the Caracas side of the span but will ultimately wind up on the Vargas side of the viaduct. Pretty cool. I guess they do it that way because putting up big cranes all along the length of the bridge would be too much work and/or more costly.

On a related matter the government has also annonounced that it will build a new route down to the see from Caracas. From the following map you can see that it actually parallels the current route but then vears off through the mountains and has LOTS of bridges and tunnels.

I'm not exactly sure why they are doing this. The existing route is capable of handling the amount of traffic it has. I also know that building a rail link between Caracas and the sea has been mentioned. I think it would be a good idea to do that before building another expensive, and not clearly needed, road link.


Since the subject of Caracas traffic and mass transit has come up in the comments I might as well do an update on the Caracas subway system which I've been meaning to do but haven't gotten around to.

First, here is a map from some time ago of what the Caracas subway is supposed to look like once it is fully completed:

Note the lines that are solid denote existing lines. The dashed lines are lines under construction or planned but not yet under construction. The main line is the orange number 1 line which goes from left to right across the middle of the map. It is far an away the most heavily used line, given that Caracas is in a valley that runds east to west, and is VERY overcrowded. The green line running south off the west end is the number 2 line and is heavily used but not overcrowded. The blue line running south in the middle is the number three line and note part of it is still under construction. It has been finished all the way to Rinconada as of a couple of months ago but not all the intermediate stations have yet been completed. There is also another planned line running south, in purple on the map, which is planned but not yet even under construction.

Due to overcrowding on the number 1 line the subway DESPERATELY needs parallel east-west lines to be built. Note there is a green dashed line running right beneath the number 1 line. The part on the left, from Capuchinos to Zona Rental, was opened a few months ago. The part to the right (east) of Zona Rental has now begun construction. Please note, this used to all be called the number 4 line but that has now changed.

Note this map shows one very interesting feature that I had never seen before, a yellow line running east-west due north of the number one line. If both the number 4 line and the yellow number 6 line are built that will be a BIG help.

Now, construction of the green line, from Zona Rental to Parque del Este was begun last month. Of course, Chavez showed up and place a plaque:

They also showed off the boaring machine being used to do the tunneling:

All this is good. But there is one little sneaky thing being done. The entire green line running parallel to the 1 line was always called the number 4 line. Now they have changed it and are calling the half they have already completed the number 4 line while designating the half they just started building as the number 5 line as can be seen from this new map:

So now they when the construction is finished they can claim to have built two new lines, instead of just one. Of course, they really won't have built anything more than what was originally known as the number 4 line. Hopefully, soon they will build the true number 5 line, the purple line in the first map, and the number 6 line. Caracas needs new subway lines as soon as they can get them, not just old lines cut in half.


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