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Crossing Over and Ploughing Under | ABCs of a New Minhocão


Under the Praça de Roosevelt and into the heart of Cracolândia: São Paulo’s East-West Corridor

Diário do Grande ABC (São Paulo, Brazil)

Residents of Arlindo Bettio Street, in the Alves Dias region of São Bernardo, have been living in the shadow of threats in recent months. Houses expropriated to make room for the East-West Corridor, a project underway since last year, are being looted and invaded by drug users.

A migration attributable to public works in the traditional downtown Cracolândia, no doubt.

Shopkeeper Maria de Lourdes Olah, 61, recounts that ever since the properties were emptied last October, she has had no peace of mind.  “They steal tile and wiring from my home,” she says. Last week, some men rolled up, got out of a car and robbed fencing materials from one of the vacant properties, says Maria. The men reportedly threatened local residents.

Under construction for 5 years, no end in site for CEU Silvina

In the house next door to Maria, a team of reporters from the DGABC caught two men removing building materials, who fled when they noticed the journalists approaching. There are signs of drug usage in the house. Its other rooms, and other houses, bear marks of breaking and entering and vandalism.

Shopkeeder José Carlos Cano, 64, said that crime has never been so bad in the area. “It used to be a peaceful place, but now we fear to leave our houses.” He calls on the company in charge of the construction — the first stage was realized by the Consórcio Mobilidade SBC, a consortium formed by OAS and Constran — to take measures.

Maria says that the police presence in the area is spotty, which is why police don’t catch criminals in the act. The military police (PM) commander for Grande ABC, Col. Marcelo Cortez Ramos de Paula, said he would reinforce patrols in the area.

“We will also talk to the building consortium, since it is its responsibility to maintain public safety and prevent the work site from becoming a drug haven.”

How discouraging is it to live in a city where, in police cases, the police — who will eventually oversee your eviction, in not a few cases — tell you this sort of thing is not their job? It is not uncommon to hear of PMs supplementing their income in their off-duty hours running protection rackets, but there is no reference to that in this story.

Sought for comment, the city government [of São Bernardo] said that expropriations continue on that street, and that it has requested reinforcements from the GCM (Guarda Civil Municipal) in order to intensify patrols in the area.

The East-West Corridor project began in June. Completed, it will consist of 20 km of traffic lanes that will connect the Jardim Irajá region to the border with Diadema.

The project is budgeted for R$ 335.2 millions, of which R$ 82 million is contributed by the federal government in the general budget of the federal Union. Another R$ 165 million will be raised using lines of credit, and the remaining costs will be borne with resources of the city government. To make room for the project, 198 properties will have to be expropriated.

Sambodia, Cross Your Heart

Its main purpose will be to connect the Radial Leste highway to the Presidente Costa e Silva Overpass, crossing the North-South Corridor and Estado Avenue and cutting through the central region of São Paulo. For its resemblance to the Costa e Silva elevated roadway, it is commonly referred to by the same moniker: the “Minhocão” — “big worm.”

An astonishing urban white elephant bearing the signature of Paulo Maluf, you caught glimpses of it during the film of Saramago’s “Essay on Blindness.”

Glicério Overpass: passes over Dom Pedro II Park and Glicério Fields, from the Western Beltway to the end of the elevated portion, at the turnoff for Doutor Lund Street.

Gentrify or Die

[Considered one of the most degraded areas of the city, Glicério is the object of various projects to revitalize the area, due to the high number of squatted building, street people, decaying constructions and a large quantity of garbage. Among its principal symptoms of degradation were the São Vito and Mercúrio buildings, which have since been duly expropriated and demolished, along as the Diário Popular viaduct and a number of homes and townhouses, which will be incorporated into Dom Pedro II Park. ]

The project remains incomplete after breaking ground in 2008 for completion by 2010. The next stretch of the East-West:

The East-West Radial Avenue, between Doutor Lund and the intersection with Major Diogo, where it is interrupted by the Jaceguaí Overpass.

The Jaceguai Overpass, where it crosses 23 May Avenue.

The Júlio de Mesquita Underpass between the intersection of Augusta Street and Major Diogo.

Named for a founder of the Mesquita newspaper dynasty.

No official name: This section consists of a viaduct under Augusta Street, Roosevelt Square and Consolação Street, with access for incoming drivers and those heading toward Consolação. The connection terminates at the beginning of the Presidente Costa e Silva Elevated, and also opens onto Amaral Gurgel.