Urban freeways (7). Buenos Aires

The Metropolitan Area of Buenos Aires, with over 13 million people, is the second largest metropolitan area in the Spanish-speaking world, and, despite the crisis, one of the main economic hubs in Latin America.

According to “Desarrollo urbano y movilidad en América Latina” (urban development and mobility in Latin America), published by the Corporación Andina de Fomento  in 2011, the mobility  in that metropolitan area can be described by:

–           Public transit have gone from 67% of total trips in 1972 to 40% in 2007

–           A lack of structural improvements in public transit system for the last decades.

–           Recent tender procedures for many projects that fail to materialize.

–           Low speed for buses.

–           A failure of the project to create dedicated bus lanes.

–           Bad state of public transit stations.

–           Inter administrative cooperation difficulties that prevent a unified planning of the transportation systems.

The idea of an urban highway network in Buenos Aires comes from the 1960s, as traffic congestion became a problem. In 1978 a call for proposals to build two toll urban highways was launched. They were opened in 1980 under a concession system, in a complex context with hiperinflation and political unstability (the end of dictature was near). So began a cycle of infrastructure creation that, due to economic hardship, was later passed from a private- public partnership to public ownership. Around 2000, the same history again, with the terrible 2001 crash of the national economy as a problem. The city has today 40 km of urban highways, some under toll systems.

THe social and economic dynamics of the country, that has seen its middle classes shrink dramatically in the last 40 years, shows to which extent public mobility policies of any kind require a certain stability to develop, as they depend on long-run credits.

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