Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Bridges - who benefits?

I recently came across two interesting stories on how new bridges are planning to change their respective city’s.  The Bridge of Knowledge in Rio de Janeiro is just one sign of the insatiable growth of the Brazilian economy (now 6th largest in the world) and at $35 million will link the Federal University with the Red Line motorway.  Yet, this article in The Guardian focuses less on the economic boosterism and more on how the construction of the bridge required bribes be paid to pacify local drug gangs.  Furthermore, the new bridge and road has required noise barriers to be constructed, according to the article, in order to hide the surrounding slums from view – possibly with an eye to the influx of visitors for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics.  

In a similar story the Washington Post reports on how the Baluarte Bicentennial Bridge in Mexico could end up aiding rather than hiding the criminal drug gangs (see here).  The bridge is part of a wider $1.5 billion super highway which will connect the states of Durango and Sinaloa and provide a link between the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean.  Yet, unfortunately the new infrastructure could be used as a convenient route for drug smuggling.  It seems bridges and roads can be a vital tool for economic development, but who benefits is a different question.

The Baluarte Bicentennial Bridge