The labyrinth of the capital
By: Amalia Morales
The circulatory system of the capital is a labyrinthine. As does a heart, it pumps vehicles in and out of the capital through five arteries that have undergone changes in the past three decades. Passing through the capital little more than three hundred thousand vehicles, half of the total flowing through the country.
One lane is extended every two years and they’ve built an overpass after eight years. In the last three decades the system of streets and avenues of the capital has undergone some changes, however, traffic is growing at a rate of about twenty thousand vehicles per year. Experts consulted say it is not only building roads and creating more roundabouts, intelligent traffic lights or overpasses that will resolve the chaotic traffic that alters the lives of Managuans.
They also have to improve roads connecting neighborhoods and encourage the use of alternate streets that lack signaling, but mostly they have to think about the ordinary citizen and to transform the mass transit system, which indeed, cities like Panama, New York, Medellin, Mexico, Bogotá, Curitiba, Santiago de Chile, among others have done.
A report on the national road network of the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure (MTI) 2001 argued that “the road network in Managua-very soon become congested due to increased vehicles as a result of economic and population growth. However, the development of new roads, as well as the improvement of existing, becomes vital for the future of Managua.”
The same report states, “however, that the problem of traffic congestion has never been solved anywhere in the world by simply building one road and then another. This does not solve the problem, this is just a waste of resources and deterioration of the environment of the city. ”
The former mayor of Managua, Dionisio Marenco, agrees with these proposals and is certain that other cities have invested improving mass transit system.
“For me the solution lies not in creating additional lanes, is by means of developing mass transportation,” says Marenco, who explains that when a city has over a million inhabitants, it is no longer enough to only have the bus system as the capital has now. You need to create an articulated transport system as has been done in Latin American cities, where the authorities led to develop a bus system which have an exclusive lane or a meter, which is almost unthinkable in Managua by the number of seismic faults that cross the city and soil quality.
“The most efficient investment that could be made here is to develop more streets like Cardinal Obando y Bravo who will joining pieces of east-west streets, if that could be extended up to the Old Road to León, it would be fantastic.”
Dionisio Marenco, former mayor of Managua.
PROPOSAL FROM 1974
In this regard, there is an old proposal to build a system of “environmentally friendly” mass transit and population.
Engineer Arnulfo Martinez says there was a proposal in 1974 to improve the transport system in the capital. The proposed mass transit spoken of Martinez proposes three main areas: the first covers the northern highway to Ciudad Sandino, the second road from Masaya to the Malecon and the third from the South -Take Incae to the Malecon, encompassing neighborhoods in the west of the capital. These three areas, which would benefit from multimodal terminals in which coincide without causing accidents; buses, taxis, motorcycles, bicycles and private vehicles, they would be articulated with other transport networks organized within the city.
Martinez, who worked on the proposal and updated it, has criticized a lack of political will to implement changes in the transport system of the capital. The engineer questions why the existing system of routes has not been restructured in the capital since the eighties.
Martinez developed this proposal, with advice from Rodrigo Salazar-the guru of changes in the transport system of cities like Medellin, which have been awarded for their human-friendly system and is part of a transportation system even use the lake Xolotlán well as waterway transport. “It’s a natural way that you can use,” said the expert.
“Half of the right of way belongs to the pedestrian, not everything is for the vehicle. Creating more traffic lanes on the road does not solve the problem, on the contrary, it is a trap for pedestrians.” Arnulfo Martinez, an engineer specializing in mass transit.
ADMINISTRATIVE MEASURES AND INVESTMENT
Architect Gerald Pentzke, former director of Urbanism of the Municipality of Managua, believes that administrative measures should be implemented, other technical and infrastructure investments.
The lights and the work of the police during rush hour “is a very effective test” of the work of the intelligent lights that began operating this week. And it is relatively “cheap” considered Pentzke, adding that alongside the two administrative measures should be implemented more technical and investment measures such as the Rubenia overpass. In designs which exist in the Municipality they are also provided overpasses in the area of Metrocentro, where eight years ago there was a pressure of about ninety thousand vehicles per day, but has now increased. The former mayor recalled that the sector of Metrocentro “is the heart” of the capital after the earthquake of 1972 began to grow to the south.
Pentzke also believes that working in the process of interconnection within neighborhoods to decongest the main roads of vehicles with slower circulation as trucks and motorcycle taxis. It is what has been done within some neighborhoods of the Carretera Norte as Hugo Chavez, Pedro Joaquin Chamorro and Las Torres, where they have created bridges and streets.
But he also believes that should fix the streets that are unfinished, finish the lanes that lead nowhere that have been made only in pieces. It is estimated that there are about nine hundred dead ends in Managua.
“Another important factor in this regard is that the road development is always followed by urbanization and a rapid population increase, thus a vicious circle tends to be created between urban expansion and road development. The road development in Managua should be strictly controlled, planned with strong implementation of the administrative capacity of the city, “the MTI report, with which experts agree that along with improving over three hundred intersections that the capital has, you should go for a more humane transport system, requiring many who now are in a private vehicle, to leave it and use the buses.
Source (in Spanish): El laberinto de la capital | La Prensa
According to this article, there remains lots of unfinished business as regards the transportation in, out and around the capital city of Managua. In addition to hundreds of dead ends, unfinished roads, lack of investment in better mass transport systems, the city faces a seemingly never-ending increase in the amount of vehicles added to the streets of Managua every year (over 20,000!).
Adding new lanes to existing roads does not solve anything, and the resultant lack of space for pedestrians also causes problems with the people. You can’t do a subway system here due to the active seismic fault lines, and right-of-ways to build light rail or dedicated bus lanes simply does not exist in Managua.
An interesting point made is that when a city grows to over 1 million in population, a standard bus system just doesn’t cut it anymore as far as serving the needs of the people. I can’t see too many solutions to this problem other than instituting a massive taking of properties along the existing roads to be able to widen them and install dedicated light rail and/or electric bus technologies.
There’s that area from Huembes Market to Carretera a Masaya for example. This area gets choked with traffic every workday, and there are few if any alternate routes to be taken to avoid the area. What might work at least a bit is to construct a sort of ring road, say from just east of the airport extending south towards Masaya and west to the Carretera Sur, but this area, especially on the west side, already is populated with lots of homes and businesses so implementing such a plan would be difficult at best.
What are your ideas to help improve traffic in Managua?