Rio's legacy: a highway where Games buses and local anger collide

Sat Aug 13, 2016 12:41pm EDT
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By Brad Brooks

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Ester Silva curses the Olympic Games as another bus rumbles over a new elevated highway that passes by her slum in Rio de Janeiro, sending a tremor through her brittle brick house.

"That road ripped our little community in two," said Silva, 61, who has run a snack shop for 16 years from her home, gesturing up at a stretch of highway where an official Games bus was hit with stones this week as it traveled between venues.

"My home is crumbling, all for an Olympics that is not being put on for us poor, yet we are the ones paying the highest price," she added, pointing out large patches of plaster that have fallen away from her ceiling and deep cracks in the walls.

The 26-km (16-mile), six-lane highway was completed just ahead of the Games and connects the main Olympic Park and a cluster of other Games venues. The government described it as a Games legacy for western Rio, promising to use it as a major bus route for the area's many poor communities.

But residents of the Vila Uniao favela hate it.

A total of 368 families were relocated to make way for the Transolimpica BRT highway, and residents say the demolition of those homes and the construction works, just meters from their front doors in many cases, caused serious structural problems.

At least three Olympic buses have been hit by projectiles while speeding along a dedicated lane in recent days, a senior security source said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter.

One bus was carrying a dozen journalists on Tuesday night when two of its windows were shattered by what some on board swore was gunfire but authorities later concluded were stones, likely shot at the bus by powerful slingshots.   Continued...

Maria, 71, waits for costumers at her kiosk next to the Transolimpica BRT, an express road built through a shantytown to join the Rio 2016 Olympic venues of Deodoro and Barra da Tijuca, in the Vila Uniao favela of Rio de Janeiro, August 12, 2016. REUTERS/Nacho Doce