Friday, December 17, 2010

Will they, or won't they? And they've gotta do something!

Seventh Ave. today: chaotic, polluted and usually congested. 
Seventh is Bogotá's most emblematic avenue - it passes by the seat of government, the bullfighting plaza, National Museum, National and Independence parks and the La Candelaria, Teusaquillo, Chapinero and Usaquen neighborhoods. It's also the city's traditional shopping street.

Sadly, this important corridor of the city is often chaotic, congested, polluted and dangerous. For years, Bogotá governments have planned public transit systems for Seventh Ave. Should it be light rail? A subway? Or another Transmilenio line?

The previous city government had planned a full-blown Transmilenio line for Seventh, with a price tag of about  $800 billion pesos. Mayor Samuel Moreno scaled the plans back to a 'Transmilenio light,' lacking overpasses and public space improvements along the avenue, at a cost of only about $80 billion pesos. The Moreno administration argued that a planned subway line running parallel to Seventh would carry much of the passenger load.

No turning back? Seventh Ave.'s already half dug up. 
The project has been contracted out, and work was scheduled to begin at full steam on Dec. 27 (the west half of several blocks has already been dug up). But just a few days ago, in mid-December, the mayor postponed the start in the face of questions about whether the plans were ready and whether the scaled-back Transmilenio would have sufficient capacity. Yet another issue has been the fate of La Ciclovia's most important corridor, although city officials have promised that it will be preserved. The tremendous delays and cost overruns on the TM projects on 10th Ave. and 26th St. certainly also made people wary of yet another big dig.

Let's hope that they finally get things right on Seventh Ave. But, above all, that they finally move ahead with work on this crucial Bogotá corridor. 

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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