Time Out Rio de Janeiro

Porto Maravilha

Project renovates the urban infrastructure of the Port

Works of the Porto Maravilha Project are renovating the urban infrastructure of the Port Region with a new transport system – the Light Rapid Transit – and more leisure options, like the redeveloped Praça Mauá, the recently inaugurated Orla Conde, and two museums: Rio Art Museum and Museum of Tomorrow. The project is requalifying 5 million sq. meters of area, with 70 km of streets and urban roads as well as 4 new tunnels, one being the largest urban road tunnel in the city. Interventions are also giving back to the city’s archaeological sites, like the old Imperatriz Quay (Cais da Imperatriz, in Portuguese) and the Hanging Garden of Valongo (Jardins Suspensos do Valongo, in Portuguese).

Rio’s Port Region is unique in terms of location, historical relevance and as a natural extension of the city center. The main roads and connections linking South, North and West zones (and the metropolitan area) go through this region, strategically located near the city’s two main airports and tourist attractions. The streets and buildings of the Port Region were essential to the creation of our national identity, as was this mix of native, European and African cultures.

Despite this, the historical importance of the site was forgotten over the years, and overall neglect led to depopulation and a decrease in the quality of life of local residents. Urban and environmental degradation began with the shrinking of trade activities in the Port Region and was heavily accentuated with the construction of Perimetral overpass (a 4.7 km-long overpass which was demolished by the City Hall from 2013 to 2014.) Port districts were then left to play a secondary role in the city and the metropolitan area.

A milestone in the project was the passing of Complementary Act 101 in 2009 – a chance to reinforce the dynamic role of the city center by attracting new residential and commercial developments to repopulate the area, while we witness a resurgence of interest in its memory and identity. Act 101 states that Porto Maravilha is intended to promote the urban restructuring of the Area of Special Urban Interest (ASUI) in the Port Region by expanding, articulating and requalifying public spaces.

To conduct this transformation, a ground-breaking institutional and finance model was created to allow for institutional stability and quality in terms of urban, economic and social development. This mechanism enables the City Hall to equally benefit from the comeback of the area.

A truly innovative solution, the Porto Maravilha project resulted in a public-private partnership based on an administrative consortium estimated to last 15 years. The urban requalification involved implementing new infrastructure and urbanization standards, restructuring the local road system, as well as improving and expanding the urban services in the region. The contract of urban operations provides the rendering of repair and maintenance services in the road and drainage system, universal galleries, traffic signaling, tourist attractions, green areas, squares, historical and geographical landmarks, as well as public lighting and sidewalks. The work also includes urban cleaning, selective waste collection and the installing and maintenance of bike racks. In addition, it must provide services to citizens in the ASUI.

The Rio de Janeiro Port Region Urban Development Company (CDURP), a City-controlled mixed economy company, was created to coordinate urban operations in the area. A consortium-based urban operation, an urban policy instrument established by the City Statute (Federal Act 10,257 / 2001), basically consists in the delimitation, by municipal law, of an ASUI. Act 101 redefined urban parameters and the use of the area soil and authorized an increase of the area’s construction potential. The implementation of Porto Maravilha is based on three strategic components: urban requalification, real estate development and socioeconomic development.

Interventions of Porto Maravilha include the building of nearly 5 km of tunnels, the paving of 70 km of roads and construction 650,000 sq. meters of sidewalks, and the reconstruction of 700 km of urban infrastructure systems (water, sewage, drainage, electricity, natural gas, telecommunications and public lighting.) The demolition of the Perimetral overpass and its 4.7 km has paved the way for a new system of urban mobility. The 17 km of cycle lanes and 15,000 planted trees are already reshaping the region.

The new systems and grids of water supply, sewage, drainage, natural gas, electricity, telecommunications and public lighting were restructured taking into account a higher population density and climate changes in a span of 50 years. Local population is expected to rise from 32,000 to 100,000 residents in 10 to 15 years. With an increase in the area covered by sidewalks and pedestrian zones, the new urbanization standards favor traveling by foot or on green public transport. Selective waste collection services and intelligent management of road traffic are among some of the significant improvements in the quality of life of residents.

Orla Conde
With the demolition of Perimetral overpass, the city has gained privileged views of Guanabara Bay. This rediscovered waterfront can be appreciated from end to end in the recently developed Orla Prefeito Luiz Paulo Conde, a 3.5km waterfront promenade from Armazém 8, in Cais do Porto, to Praça da Misericórdia. Filled with trees, this area in the Port Region is dedicated to pedestrians and cyclists along the decks, promenades, cycle lanes, squares and common areas. The historical area is traversed by LRT (Light Rail Transit) lines, which will have 28 km of extension and 31 stops when fully operative. Orla Conde will have four stops – Utopia Aquário, Parada dos Navios, Parada dos Museus and Praça XV.

The landscaping in the redeveloped Praça Mauá is replicated throughout the promenade and brings together 215,000 sq. meters of the common area and the 27 cultural centers located Downtown. Rio Art Museum, the National Library, Armazém da Utopia, Centro Cultural dos Correios, Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Casa França Brasil e the Museum of Tomorrow are some of the cultural venues along Orla Conde.

Via Expressa
The Porto Maravilha urban operation announced profound changes in the road system of the Port Region, as the Perimetral overpass is replaced by an expressway, Via Expressa, and a new parallel road, Via Binário do Porto. Via Expressa will replace Rodrigues Alves Avenue – both overground and as a tunnel – and serve as a short route for drivers who cross the area. The 6.847-km road will connect Aterro do Flamengo to Brasil Avenue and Rio-Niterói Bridge with three lanes both ways. The Prefeito Marcello Alencar tunnel will be 3,022 meters long from the current underpass at Praça XV to Armazém 8 in Cais do Porto. The underground part has allowed for the transformation of the stretch between Praça da Misericórdia and Armazém 8 in Orla Conde – 3.5 km of extension for pedestrians and cyclists to travel and also for LRT (Light Rapid Transit).

Via Binário do Porto
Via Binário do Porto is part of the new urban mobility system being implemented by the Porto Maravilha project. It was inaugurated in 2013, linking Novo Rio Bus Terminal to Rio Branco Avenue both ways. Parallel to Rodrigues Alves Avenue, the 3.5-km road system has 3 lanes each way and various exits to carry traffic internally in the Port Region.

During construction works, Via Binário do Porto plays an important role in relieving traffic that would travel on Perimetral. When Via Expressa fully replaces the Perimetral overpass (directly linking Ponte Rio-Niterói, Brasil Avenue and Rio de Janeiro Avenue to Aterro do Flamengo), Via Binário Porto will become the main road for circulation within the Port districts and its accesses from/to Downtown.

Rio450 Tunnel
Named after Rio’s 450-year anniversary, the Rio450 Tunnel is 1,480 meters long and was opened in March 2015. It was the first tunnel built below sea level – as low as 40 meters at its deepest stretch. With 3 lanes heading to the Bus Terminal, it starts at Primeiro de Março St. (in front of São Bento Monastery) and ends around Antônio Lage St.

Cultural Porto Maravilha
The Port Region is an area of great cultural diversity and landmarks that recount the story of Rio and Brazil, with works by renowned architects, rediscovered warehouses, representations of African-Brazilian culture, small palaces, terraced houses from the early 20th Century and rail warehouses. Created by the City Hall to coordinate operations, the Rio de Janeiro Port Region Urban Development Company (CDURP) implemented the Cultural Porto Maravilha Program. The purpose is to invest in the restoration of historical sites, in activities promoted by the government and initiatives that restore the interest in the region’s heritage.

So far, the program has restored the warehouses in Gamboa, the Palacete Dom João VI (part of the Rio Art Museum complex), São Francisco da Prainha Church, the house of a famous Portela representative, Dona Dodô, and the headquarters of Filhos de Talma Drama School, in Gamboa. The Pretos Novos Institute is where the Pretos Novos Cemetery is based. Part of the Historical and Archaeological Circuit for Celebrating African Heritage, it is also supported by CDURP for maintenance, production of institutional material and offer of free guided tours.

Words by Time Out Rio de Janeiro editors
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