The construction of the first subway in Middle America began on Monday, February 14, 2011 which by the way, is Valentine’s Day in Panama. It has an allotted budget of $1.6 billion and should be finished sometime in 2014. This year will coincide with the last year in office of President Ricardo Martinelli, who made the construction of the subway, one of his main campaign promises, as well as a radical reform of the education system.
“I want to be remembered as the person who transformed Panama’s mass transportation system and improved the quality of life of Panamanians,” said Mr. Martinelli when he awarded the building contract. The whole project includes four subway routes, one of them over the Panama Canal towards the west of the Isthmus.
The subway—ninth in Latin America, but 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. Alstom will design and build the trains and electromechanical systems for the mass transportation public project.
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 several years to peak at 40,000 passengers. When it is completed, trains will travel a 8.7-mile line in 23 minutes with stops at 13 stations, some above ground and others below. It will run between the highly densely populated San Miguelito Special District and Albrook national bus terminal.
Last Sunday, May 20, 2012, I drove over to the Trans-isthmian Highway to take pictures on the progress made on this mega-project. The railway support beams are now being built and can be seen above ground. Take a look at the pictures which shows the work in progress. Here we go.