Connecting cities in the Belo Horizonte metropolitan region

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Friday, April 21, 2017

Improving the metro line network in the metropolitan region of Minas Gerais state capital Belo Horizonte is one way to improve inter-municipal transportation in the Brazilian state.

Contagem, the largest city in the region, is planning transportation works of about 633mn reais (US$202mn), and city mayor Alex de Freitas shared details about these upcoming works with BNamericas.

BNamericas: Could you tell me about Contagem's plan for the 2km extension of metro line No. 1 coming from the state capital Belo Horizonte?

de Freitas: Belo Horizonte train company Metrominas, which is part of the state's transportation and public works department Setop, has already created a basic plan for the project. It maps out a plan to extend the line to the upcoming Eldorado station in the Novo Eldorado neighborhood, in addition to building a train yard.

BNamericas: Will expropriations be needed?

de Freitas: To prepare for an executive project, we're currently seeking financing from the federal and Minas Gerais state governments, as well as planning our own public funding. Only after this is done will we know if expropriations are needed.

BNamericas: Is this project connected to other projects?

de Freitas: The expansion project is part of a larger initiative which involves building the city's 233mn-real intermodal complex to be situated between the neighborhoods of Novo Eldorado and Água Branca.

While an investment of some 158mn reais is expected for the metro line, 75.3mn reais have been earmarked for works at the complex, such as building a metropolitan road and an urban bus terminal, as well as the construction of a 200m pedestrian walkway.

Once done, the complex should serve some 150,000 passengers per day.

BNamericas: Should we be expecting a tender for the civil works soon?

de Freitas: Well, I hope that we can get federal and/or state government funding to support our own resources by June, followed by an authorization from Brazil's urban rail company CBTU.

If this is accomplished, we will be able to launch a tender by the end of this year. As the civil works should take about two years, this gives us until the end of 2019 to wrap up the works.

BNamericas: Are there plans to continue the metro line any further?

de Freitas:  Yes, we are working on a plan to expand the metro another 7km to the Bernardo Monteiro neighborhood where Contagem borders with the city of Betim. The project, which is estimated at 400mn reais, will include the construction of two stations.

Currently, Metrominas is developing a basic plan for the initiative, which is intended to connect to a light rail transit (LRT) system running to downtown Betim.

BNamericas: How will the project be funded?

de Freitas: In addition to meeting with cities minister Bruno Araújo, I have spoken with three Minas Gerais senators and more than 30 congressmen who are determined to obtain federal government funding for the project.

Other mayors in the Belo Horizonte metropolitan region have also expressed their support in the Eldorado-Bernardo Monteiro extension and are working to get support from Brasília.

Meanwhile, to get the ball rolling, Contagem city hall is willing to cover a third of the cost. Although we do not have the available cash, we could acquire it in various ways. The city has an indebtedness capacity which permits financing from national development bank BNDES. We could also help fund the project through our own revenue, through real estate assets, or by counterpart funding which could be acquired through a tender for the provision of public transport services.