|The ALO, as envisioned by the Infrastructure |
Chamber of Commerce, a project backer.
Championed by ex-Mayor Enrique Peñalosa, this monster ten-lane motorway has been opposed by Mayor Gustavo Petro, who has pointed to the project's impacts on wetlands. Instead, Petro proposes using land set aside for the avenue for universities. Discussions on the project's future are continuing.
Whatever the project's benefits, its environmental impacts would be huge.
|The ALO slashes across a wetland area. |
(Image from: Humedales Bogota)
The Secretaria also predicts that the ALO would spur illegal invasions of other natural areas along its path. One piece of pastureland originally supposed to be turned into a wetland to compensate for the avenue's impacts has already been filled with houses, according to the Secretaria. Destruction of wetlands also disrupts natural water flow patterns, increasing flooding.
|One of Bogotá's fast-disappearing wetlands.|
Freeways like this one also slash across cities and neighborhoods, making them impassable for walkers and bicyclists.
"Instead of creating more hectares of cement, we should think about conservation and creating more spaces for water, health and mental and physical well-being," said Margarita Florez, Bogotá's secretary of the environment.
Florez is correct that Bogotá needs its natural areas to preserve some sanity.
Across the Americas, in fact, cities are tearing down freeways.
|The mega-freeway's projected route.|
Planners have recently made some concessions toward sustainability, by adding a TransMilenio line down the ALO's center, and planning to charge tolls to users.
Over the next months, city officials may decide the ALO's future. But I have the feeling that Bogotá can find away to solve its traffic headaches without destroying what's left of its natural heritage.
Read more about the impacts on wetlands at: Humedales Bogotá.
Related blogpost: Bogotá's Suffering Wetlands
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours