Visiting the Bridge of the Americas, Ciudad de la Costa, Uruguay: a national success, inaugurated in 2005
A bridge to the future, by Julio Martínez Calzón
This major bridge in Uruguay was inaugurated by President Jorge Batlle Ibáñez (1) in 2005.
Some history and features
The Bridge is 145 metres long, and 44.5 metres tall. (Including its access roads, it is 500 metres long.) In its construction, 52 high support wires are employed in symmetrical formation.
Regarding the name of the structure: the Bridge should not be confused with the bridge of the same name in Panama, Central America. In fact, what initially gave rise to the name was the Bridge's location: at the intersection of Avenida de las Américas and Avenida Ingeniero Gianattassio (2).
Historically, the building and opening of the Bridge came at a time when Uruguay was emerging from a period of economic difficulty influenced by the geography of the country, situated as Uruguay is, with the giant countries of Argentina and Brazil as neighbours. A combination of developments in Brazil and economic turmoil in Argentina meant that in practical terms the Uruguayan public finances were limited. This Bridge project, however, was prioritized by the Government of President Jorge Batlle Ibáñez because of the structure's pivotal location at a major route eastwards out of the city and department of Montevideo, and Ciudad de la Costa in the department of Canelones. The freer flow of traffic at this location affects many road travellers: both commuters into Montevideo, and tourist traffic towards the eastern coastal resorts such as Punta del Este, and commercial traffic relating to industry and logistics in the vicinity of Montevideo's Carrasco International Airport (Spanish: Aeropuerto Internacional de Carrasco ).
As well as President Batlle, included among the participants in the Bridge's opening ceremony on February 24, 2005 were Minister Rafael Brum and Engineer Charriquiry. The leading designer of the the project was Julio Martínez Calzón (1938-)(3).
A personal recollection: I remember the east-west Avenida Italia area in the morning rush hour would become regularly very busy (Avenida Italia leads to Avenida de las Américas and Avenida Ingeniero Gianattassio intersection). In later years, I drove across the Bridge of the Americas and certainly the aim of keeping the traffic moving has been achieved. For visitors, the Ministry of Tourism promotes Uruguay as the 'friendly country' (Spanish: País amigo ). Certainly with the emphasis on good roads to popular destinations and a strong commitment to worthwhile infrastructure projects such as the Bridge of the Americas combine to provide a friendly reception with practical ease of car hire and travel, in this remarkably beautiful and visitor-welcoming country.
July 11, 2012
(1) Himself from a distinguished, political family, Jorge Batlle Ibáñez (1927-), a Doctor of Law, worked for many years as a journalist as well as serving as a deputy and as a senator. Elected to the Presidency of Uruguay in 1999, he led Uruguay during a time of economic upheavals influenced from events outside the country, but also of economic liberalization. He was particularly noted for his promotion of close ties with the United States.
(2) This road is named for another former Uruguayan President, Luis Gianattassio Finocchietti (1894-1965), who was also an engineer (Spanish: ingeniero ); in addition to his political service as President, and previously as a government minister, Mr. Gianattassio was notably known for his company's responsibility for new buildings of the British Schools, Carrasco, Montevideo. As President, Mr. Gianattassio represented Uruguay in attending the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill.
(3) Dr Julio Martínez Calzón (1938-) is a prolific builder of bridges, especially in Spain; among his many professional credentials is an engineering licence from the University of New Brunswick, Canada.
Also worth seeing
In Montevideo , visitor attractions include: numerous visitor attractions include: the Salvo Palace; the Independence Building facing Plaza Independencia; the Artigas Mausoleum; the Gateway to the Citadel; the Legislative Palace; the main building of the University of the Republic (UdelaR); the Cerro Fortresss; the Cerrito; the Obelisk; Montevideo Cathedral (Matriz church) in the Old City; and many others.
How to get there: LanChile flies to Montevideo , Uruguay from North American destinations including New York and Toronto . The Uruguayan airline PLUNA, which codeshares with VARIG, flies to a number of Latin American regional destinations. Car rental is available at Montevideo Carrasco International airport. Some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.
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