· Expansion and Conclusion of the Via Expresa
WASHINGTON, February 28, 2014 – More than 400,000 residents and millions of tourists coming to the imperial city of Cusco will benefit from the US$120 million Transportation Improvement Project (METRA, in Spanish) approved today by the World Bank Board of Executive Directors.
“We are greatly satisfied with the approval of this project, as it will truly help to improve accessibility in the city with the expansion of the Via Expresa Avenue, while strengthening Cusco’s urban transportation planning capacities”, said Rene Concha, Cusco Regional President.
METRA, which will be implemented by the Cusco Regional Government’s PER PLAN COPESCO (Special Regional Project), seeks to improve mobility across the city’s east-west corridor by expanding the carrying capacity and concluding the Via Expresa Avenue. It will also benefit residents and tourists by improving transportation planning and organization at Cusco’s Provincial Municipality.
Improvements will directly benefit the most vulnerable residents of the city’s eastern sector, which covers the districts of Wanchaq, San Sebastian and San Jeronimo, home to close to 166,000 inhabitants.
Within the metropolitan area, the construction of 6.4 km of new roads will improve accessibility and transportation options throughout the city, thus promoting the economic integration of peripheral communities.
On the other hand, accidents —and concurrent loss of life among pedestrians and cyclists, especially in neighborhoods surrounding the project— will be dramatically reduced.
Design criteria for the Via Expresa incorporate elements that promote and guarantee universal accessibility to the avenue and adjacent streets, including bus stop seating, well-illuminated paths and safe crossings for all users, including those with special needs.
The project will also generate new planning tools for pedestrian mobility within the historical center, promote the use of bicycles and the sustainable maintenance of the city’s road network.
The city of Cusco, located 3,300 meters above sea level and covering an area of 380 km2, is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It harbors pre-Inca, Inca and colonial remains, architecture and monuments of great historical importance. Because of this, tourism is one of its main economic activities, with a significant impact on land use in the city due to the space required by hotels, restaurants, commercial space and transportation services. These activities also determine the urban transportation pattern among workers and visitors. Tourism is also the main force pushing residents away from the historical center and toward the city’s east, a predominantly residential area with working class neighborhoods. These urban dynamics have exposed the need to improve service provision in residential areas to the east of the city with urban infrastructure and transportation services, while maintaining the historical center’s economic dynamism.
Looking to the long term, along with improved mobility, the construction of the Via Expresa Avenue will have a structural impact on the City of Cusco by reducing pressure on the Historical Center.
The total cost for the project is US$152.60 million, of which US$120 million will be disbursed by the World Bank via a variable-margin loan with a 30-year maturity period and an eight-year grace period.