This major artery in the transport system of São Paulo occupies both sides of the river Tietê. Together with its continuation along the river Pinheiros it connects inner São Paulo with the various federal highways that lead to the coast and the hinterland. The construction of a supersized ring road, the Rodoanel, was supposed to alleviate the expressways that cross the city. However, even before the completion of the ring road, it has become clear (for some at least) that this will not be sufficient.
Governor José Serra has launched a new expansion project for the Marginal do Tietê, increasing the number of lanes on both sides as well as the number of flyovers across the river. Serra believes the project will diminish the size of the traffic jams and therefore save lots of time and fuel.
The project is criticized by left wing activists, ecologists, architects etc, stating that it is fundamentally a wrong decision, because the road system is eternally insufficient. Examples like Los Angeles (USA) show clearly that the continuous road building policies are just never enough. Stimulating the use of the automobile in practice means stimulating sprawl and extensive use of the metropolitan territory, something that many good urbanists and politicians have been fighting against over the last decade. Former mayor Paulo Maluf, (in)famous for his own massive infrastructure projects back in the 1970’s, thinks it’s a great idea and criticizes ecologists and basically everyone else who might be against it. Architect Oscar Niemeyer suggested the demolition of the entire Marginal do Tietê and moving it to somewhere else. That also doesn’t seem satisfying.
Recreational use of the Tietê river in the early twentieth century
The Tietê riversides today
It is estimated that traffic in the metropolis, which already suffers massive infarcts, will worsen by 40% during construction. There is wonderful news though: in the middle of the expanded 20 lane expressway there will be a brandnew bicycle path, for those who can stand the fumes of the cars and the polluted river at the same time, while they dream of also having their own airconditioned automobile.
Plan for the urbanization of the Tietê riversides in the nineteen thirties
São Paulo Government
Comments by architect Fernando de Mello Franco (Vitruvius/ folha de São Paulo 17 September 2009, in Portuguese)
Rio Tietê website (Portuguese)
Blogpost criticizing the construction (Portuguese)
Check realtime traffic jams in São Paulo
Column by Reinaldo Azevedo: Marginal Tietê – O fedor do autoritarismo (11 September 2009, in Portuguese)