Medellin has finally completed its new tourist metro-cable line L, which will carry passengers over the hills east of the city to Arvi Park. After years of planning, it is due to open to the public in the next three weeks.
Colombia Reports got a sneak preview of the new line, which takes 14 minutes to cover the 4.6 kilometres from Santo Domingo metro-cable station, high over the hills to the new station in Arvi Park, a nature reserve just outside Medellin.
The view is spectacular as the cable car climbs 600 metres above the city, and very soon the passenger is looking down at a forest instead of houses. The area is so inaccessible, with few roads, that a team of 70 donkeys was used to carry the building materials for the towers that support the cable.
Many trees were cut down to make way for the new line, leaving a yellow scar running through the middle of the forest. But as Theodor Kurk Echeverri, an engineer on the project, explained to Colombia Reports, over 4,000 trees are being planted in the area to replace the 1,500 that had to be removed.
The Arvi station itself is built of wood, unlike the new concrete and steel station in the colorful barrio of Santo Domingo, in order to blend in with the trees around it. The curved lines of its flat roof are intended to bring to mind the shape of a leaf as the visitor approaches it from the air.
Once in the park, visitors will be able to enjoy a variety of adventure sports, from canopying and bungee jumping, to horse riding and mountain biking. The park already has some tourist infrastructure, but more is being built to serve the expected influx of 5,000 visitors a day.
The first people to ride the new line are local residents, who live in Santa Elena. Careful consultation was carried out with the local community for years before building work even began.
“There was a lot of resistance initially, but soon they began to understand the project and its benefits to them,” Kurk explains.
The metro has already benefited local people along its route, he claims, by reducing the presence of paramilitaries and guerrillas in the area. Just as line K, running from Acevedo station in the valley up to the steep hillside to Santo Domingo, has helped regenerate the area, once a notorious slum, the new line will improve security for people living further up the hill. “People in Santo Domingo used to say that they weren’t part of Medellin,” he says, “they had to take three separate buses to get to it. But now they feel that they are involved in the city.”
The authorities had originally planned to build a third stop on the new line, on the crest of the hill midway between Santo Domingo and Arvi, but it was scrapped due to concerns that it would attract more settlers to the area to build illegal houses on the hillside, Kurk explained. “We started to know the area and realised that if we build a middle stop, the whole mountain would be built up within a week.”
The new line should also benefit residents of the city itself, who are starved of access to open spaces, Kurk says. “We have a problem in Medellin, that there are not enough public green areas – we are trying to fix this.”
Metro line L will run from 9AM to 5PM. The price of a ticket has not yet been decided.
For more information click here.