Caracas, June 21, 2007 (venezuelanalysis.com)— Hailing it as a great achievement for its rapid completion, Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez inaugurated a new valley bridge that connects the Venezuelan capital of Caracas with its international airport. Ever since the old bridge collapsed a year and a half ago Venezuelans had to deal with long and expensive trips to the airport.
The new four lane valley bridge, known as “Viaduct 1,” is 900 meters long, three times as long as the old bridge that had collapsed. The reason the new one is so much longer is that it is located at a different location because the location of the previous bridge is unstable.
The bridge cost US$80 million and took 15 months to build, three months less than originally planned. It was a complicated task, said engineers, because of the unstable ground nearby, which had caused the collapse of the old bridge. However, with work conducted 24-hours a day, it was possible to finish the bridge earlier than anticipated.
Chavez arrived at the event in a helicopter and then drove a Venezuelan model military Jeep, known as “Tiuna,” across the bridge, with thousands of supporters behind. The crowd pushed through to Chavez so forcefully that his security detail had a hard time holding people back and which prevented Chavez from giving the speech he had planned.
With transit between Caracas and the port town of La Guaira, where the airport is located, reestablished, transit times between the two locations should be cut approximately in half, to about half an hour. For a few months after the collapse of the old valley bridge traffic to the airport had to take a very long and circuitous route through the mountains that separate Caracas from the coast, which could take up to four or five hours. For the past year, though, a new make-shift road had been constructed, which allowed Venezuelans to get to the coast in about an hour.
The new bridge is thus ready for the Americas Cup, which is scheduled to begin next week in the Venezuelan state of Merida and will feature soccer matches between teams from both North and South America.