New bridges have been opening in Caracas, the Venezuelan capital, in a bid beat the city's traffic problems.
New bridges have been opening in Caracas, the Venezuelan capital, in a bid beat the city's traffic problems. The bridges are prefabricated and can be put up in only 72 hours.
Caracas was a sleepy city of 300,000 inhabitants until the discovery of rich oil deposits in Western Venezuela in 1922, It brought untold wealth to the country, and Caracas expanded rapidly, spilling over from the federal district to neighbouring state of Miranda.
The country's oil deposits have meant that petrol is very cheap for Venezuelans. As cars can be purchased on very easy payment terms, 400,000 of them try to jostle through the streets of Caracas - only to get caught in giant traffic jams.
The volume of traffic at peak hours, when workers stream into the city or try to get out again, causes long queues, inching along for miles. This is made even worse if there is an accident, as the law states that crashed vehicles, even in a minor incident, cannot be moved until a police officer has visited the scene.
South America's most modern highways criss-cross the city, but are insufficient for the volume of traffic. Then came the idea for the bridges.
In fact, although they look like bridges, they are really fly-overs at the main road intersections. The idea came from Belgium, but they are now built in Venezuela under a contract to the Ministry of Communications, at a cost of eight million bolivars (two million Us dollars) each.
But perhaps their biggest advantage is the speed at which they can be constructed. Work starts on Friday night with the metallic parts of the bridge, to be followed on Saturday with the laying of cement blocks. 72 hours from the start they are ready for use to help beat the jams.
The are plans for twelve bridges in Caracas and four have been built so far. Studies have also been started to look into the possibility of an underground railway system that would provide much quicker journeys for the city's commuters.
SYNOPSIS: The Venezuelan capital of Caracas is known throughout the world for its traffic problems. There are 400,000 cars in the city, and during the rush hours every one of them seems to be trying to get into or out of the capital, inching their way along.
The city's authorities think they have probably found a solution. Bridges are being built at major road junctions, where the jams are at their worst, in the hope that the traffic will flow freely. Work starts on Friday evening when most of the cars are off the roads. Working through the night, they start off by manoeuvring the giant metal girders into place and the race is on to get the bridge finished before commuters start pouring back on Monday morning.
Caracas was a sleepy city until the discovery of rich oil deposits in western Venezuela in 1922. It brought major wealth to the country and Caracas expanded rapidly, spilling over from the federal district to the neighbouring state of Miranda.
In Venezuela, most things are expensive but petrol isn't. Cheap petrol and easy payment terms on cars have meant that thousands of people take to the roads as the cheapest and most convenient way of travelling. Hence, the need for the bridges.
Only 72 hours after starting construction - and the bridge is ready to be opened by the Minister of Communications, Leopoldo Sucre Figarella.
Twelve traffic bridges have been planned for Caracas and four have been completed so far. But there is still one chance for commuters if the bridges aren't successful - studies are now underway for an underground railway system.