This is the largest and most important mass mobility project in the Aburrá Valley in the past 25 years, after the construction of Metro A line. This is how the 80th Ave Metro is outlined, a project that will transform the city’s west side and will positively impact the lives of 1 million people, in 32 neighborhoods of Medellín. It is estimated that this work will begin at the end of 2021.
In spite of the pandemic, the path to its achievement was accelerated during this 2020. Approaches between the Municipality and the National Government, led by Mayor Daniel Quintero, allowed the project to be declared of strategic importance. Thus, last September 16th, the cofinancing by the nation was made official through a Conpes document that endorses it. With this approved agreement, Medellín is ready to have one of the most important works of this decade for the development of the city, said Luis Alberto Rodriguez, Director of the National Planning Department (DNP).
Then, on September 28, another milestone was set for this new metro line. President Iv á n Duque was present at the Metro’s maintenance center, in the municipality of Bello, to sign the Confis document that commits the National Government to allocate the resources for the construction. The total cost of the project is estimated at COP3.5 billion, of which the National Government will contribute 70%, equivalent to COP2.4 billion, and the Municipality the remaining COP1.1 billion.
In terms of urban planning, the railway corridor will be a trigger for urban renewal. The project is 13.5 kilometers long, with 17 stops that cross the entire western part of the city, integrating with the Metro system in four stations: Caribe, Floresta, La Palma (bus line 1) and Aguacatala.
But beyond being a system of mass mobility, the 80th Ave Metro will generate development in many other areas. In order to estimate its impact, the Urban Development Company of Medellin (EDU for its acronym in Spanish), through its Urban Modeling Center, created a three-dimensional digital model of the project’s layout, adding layers of information on environmental, social, mobility, regulatory, cadastral and urban operation, which allow the identification of challenges and opportunities in the territory.
“We are talking about this model with all the actors involved in the project, in a more real and technical visualization of what the project will be,” said Wilder Echavarría, manager of the EDU. The manager stated that the property and land acquisition is being carried out for two fundamental road interchanges that will be built at the intersection of Colombia and San Juan streets across 80th Avenue. In total, there will be seven road intersections to be updated on 80th Avenue which, according to Echavarría, will help improve east-west mobility in the city.
“For these two projects (Colombia and San Juan) we are acquiring 245 plots of land that will free up the land for elevated bridges and to generate new public space, safe crossings and green areas. In addition, we are permanently accompanying and dialoguing with the communities to mitigate the risks associated with the construction activities,” the manager pointed out.
In addition, ACI Medellín has led international opportunities to attract foreign capital to participate in the development of the work and promote its execution. “We have worked in the relationship of companies and investors with the experience and capacity to participate in the construction bids that will begin in 2021. We have interacted with business leaders from Latin America, North America, Europe and Asia who have shown interest in learning about the project, technically. We work in an integrated manner with the Medellín Mayor’s Office and the Medellín Metro,” said Jonathan Ballesteros, Director of Cooperation and Investment Management of ACI Medellín.
Sergio López, Manager of the 80th Ave Metro project, said that they want to prioritize mobility by bicycle, walkability and mass mobility over that of cars. In this way, in addition to strengthening the public transport system, it aims to discourage the use of vehicles to reduce traffic and lower emissions. A mistake that had been made historically in mobility systems is that development had never been oriented to mass mobility, he explained.
It is not in vain that this route will be named E Line, in relation to a concept of Eco city that the municipal administration takes into account for its projects. “The Eco city is, as a city vision, to understand that climate change exists and to make decisions to favor the improvement of Medellin’s environmental conditions”, added López.
Being a mass mobility system, one hundred percent electric, that will move close to 180,000 users per day, it is estimated that the emission of some 131,754 tons of CO 2 per year will be avoided. Also, with its construction thousands of green jobs will be generated. That is, job opportunities that are created thanks to infrastructure or any kind of policy that reduces pollution.
On his part, Alexander Jiménez, from the Medellín Metro company, added that today they have identified the trees that may need to be intervened during construction works, either by pruning, moving or transplanting. Those trees will be compensated by planting five new ones. In addition, Jiménez explained that the Metropolitan Area (environmental authority) is very demanding in terms of the trees required by the city, according to the species and the area where they are planted, so each new tree planted will respond to that need.
Project key milestones
- When the 80th Ave Metro is ready, citizens will be able to use it without an extra fare, that is, a person who is at any of the 17 stations will be able to connect with the whole Aburrá Valley, with the same ticket. Along with the Metro, streetcar/tram, bus lines BRTs and cables, Medellín will be a reference point for the multimodal mass transportation system.
- Its construction is expected to begin in late 2021 or early 2022, and will last for five years. It will even represent an alternative for post pandemic economic recovery, given that nearly 1,500 direct jobs will be generated during its construction and thousands more of other indirect jobs.
- Today, the purchase of 20 simple composition trains is authorized. These trains are 33 and 35 meters long and will be connected to twice their length 66 meters. However, their wagons will not be separated, but will be connected to the interior by a tunnel, just as the city’s metro system is today
- The Medellín Mayor’s Office has expressed that during this administration the pre feasibility studies and design of a subway Metro that will cross from El Poblado to Castilla will be contracted, with the aim for future administrations to make it a reality.