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Medellin inaugurates almost-finished mega-escalator

posted by Tim Hinchliffe
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Medellin escalators

Medellin inaugurated Colombia’s first mega-escalator Monday for swifter passage up the hillside of the city’s most dangerous district, Comuna 13.

The $6.9 million dollar public works project is the first of its kind in Colombia and offers residents free access to 1,260 feet of movable stairs – the equivalent of about a 28-story building.

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“We used to see escalators in shopping malls, but Medellin will be the first to use it as public transport, a mobility solution for these neighborhoods with difficult access,” said Mayor Alonso Salazar, who inaugurated the unfinished escalator less than a week before leaving office.

The escalator is divided into six sections for easier access to some 12,000 people from different parts of the neighborhood, who have been accustomed to trekking the hills on foot for generations.

According to newspaper El Espectador, one mother in the area described the new project as “like a spaceship” because she is now able to access to her home in five minutes instead of 30.

The construction of the super-elevator has received both criticism and praise from locals with some saying that the government should focus on providing better housing and food distribution while others expressed pride and a sense of greater security as it is easier for soldiers and police to patrol the hills.

According to AP, Colombia’s Brazilian neighbors are very interested in the project, and officials from Rio de Janeiro plan to visit Medellin to study the escalator to see if it would work in their own city’s “favelas,” which also cling to hillsides.

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Author Tim Hinchliffe is a journalist from Seattle with a keen interest in traveling, cooking, and culture.

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