December 31 2013

Farewell Cars! Buenos Aires’ Highways to Undergo Transformations

For many years the symbol of progress for many cities in Latin America were highways, enormous corridors of concrete designed to meet the needs of sprawling metropolitan areas that followed the American model of car dependent communities.

These autopistas were designed to promote urban expansion and the real estate speculation that comes along with it, creating massive metropolitan areas that transformed otherwise compact Latin American cities, such as Buenos Aires.

But now what is left of this approach to urban planning? Huge traffic jams, increasing air pollution (not that cities in Latin America need an extra hand with that) and a reduction of the economical activity of the city caused by long commute times, even forcing companies to change their schedules to adapt to the situation. All of this leading to a true collapse of the single occupant-vehicle transportation scheme, which is already being revised in many places in the world, but still has some supporters in Buenos Aires.

Autopista 25 de Mayo

So what can be done to infrastructure of such scale – located in almost every part of the Buenos Aires’ metropolitan area?

For the moment it can’t be removed, as is being done in Seoul or Seattle, because the problem of the need for mobility is still present and the city can’t go without the single-occupant vehicle scheme previously mentioned. Buenos Aires is not yet ready for a full introduction to public transit of quality in its metropolitan area, which can replace the automobile transport load of the highways.

A solution then lies in using the current infrastructure as a platform for growth in innovative modes of transportation.

Autopista Buenos Aires-La Plata

Buenos Aires’ Bus Rapid Transit has proven successful in many places in the city, why not try transforming the metropolitan freeways into BRT corridors? Why not transform the space of highways into new areas of green and sustainable transportation, including bike-routes, segregated bus lines and carpool lanes?

New BRT Buenos Aires

Latin American cities don’t have the money nor, in many cases, the political will to transform their modes of transportation from one day to another. A reutilization of the existing system is a way to look toward the future, the transformation of Buenos Aires’ extensive network of freeways is a challenge for the next decade.

In which other ways would you reutilize highways? Is there an alternative to demolishing them?

Credits: Images by Luis Lozano-Paredes and linked to sources. Data linked to sources.

Luis Lozano-Paredes

Luis Lozano-Paredes is currently a student seeking a Diploma of Architecture and Urban Planning at Belgrano University in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Born in Colombia in 1987, he grew between the cities of Bogotá and Santiago de Cali, and then moved to Argentina in 2006. There, he finished the Common Basic Cycle of Architecture, Design, and Urbanism at the University of Buenos Aires before pursuing studies in Landscape Design at the same Institution. Inspired by the Urban Transformation of Bogotá in the past decades, his interests evolved from Landscape Architecture to his current passion; Urban Planning, Policy Making, and Sustainable Development. He plans to continue his studies in Urban Planning and Sustainability in Canada, Chile, or the U.S.; but for the moment he currently works as a Graduate Research Assistant at the Center of Metropolitan Transport Studies of the University of Buenos Aires and is a Member of the Observatory of Urban Sustainability at Belgrano University. Luis’ main interests lay within the study of Smart Cities, Urban Sustainable Development, and Social Architecture in Latin America.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, December 31st, 2013 at 9:32 am and is filed under Transportation, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


2 Responses to “Farewell Cars! Buenos Aires’ Highways to Undergo Transformations”

  1. Constant Cap Says:

    Unfortunately here in Africa people have all fallen into the same trap, with everyone believing that Freeways and Highways are a sign of progression and the way forward for a country to develop.
    With no public transport system in place we fall into the one-car-one person trap and as a result there is an increase in traffic congestion,pollution etc.

    It takes a lot of education and ‘noise’ to get anyone to believe that freeways and highways are not as beneficial as perceived- And now with donors ready to fund construction on low interest loans and the Chinese willing to come and construct them in ‘record time’!…

  2. Luis Says:

    In which ways would you reutilize Colombia’s highways?

    The solution for reutilizing Colombian highways is to expand already implemented Bus Rapid Transit systems by using the existing infrastructure or by adapting the highways to a system similar to the BusVao system in Spain:

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