Construction on the first metro in Central America began in Panama City Monday, a $1.6-billion project that will open to riders in 2014.
“Today we are beginning construction of line one of the Panama metro,” Metro General Secretary Roberto Roy told AFP.
The subway — the ninth in Latin America but the first in Central America — is being built by an international consortium that includes France’s Alstom, Brazil’s Norberto Odebrecht and Spain’s Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas.
Roy said the system will open with an initial capacity of 15,000 passengers an hour in each direction with more being added over a period of years to peak at 40,000 passengers. When it is completed, trains will travel the 8.7-mile (14-kilometer) line in 23 minutes with stops at 13 stations, some above ground and others below. It will run between the densely populated San Miguelito municipality and the Albrook bus station.
The dig begins in Panama City’s historic Cinco de Mayo Plaza where the first station will be built. Pipes, posts and other obstacles were being removed to clear the ground for the station, Roy said.
The government plans four subway lines in all, one of them over the Panama Canal.
Copyright 2011 AFP. All rights reserved.