Natal Brazil

Information about the city of Natal, in Brazil.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Bridge Natal - Redinha is opened.

The new bridge Natal - Redinha was officially opened yesterday, November 20th 2007.

This is the longest and most beautiful bridge in Brazil (the bridge JK, in Brasilia, is also modern and beautiful, but the scenery in Natal is uncomparable better).

Besides being beautiful, it was planned to be useful. Before the bridge, there were two ways to get across the river Potengi: driving around the Northern bridge of Igapó or taking the ferry boat; the bridge will save about half an hour of thousands of drivers every day (the Transit Department estimates that about 25 thousand vehicles a day will use the bridge), and will hopefully bring economic progress to the Northern part of Natal.

Below, a few photos of the bridge.
Photos by Ivanízio Ramos, sponsored by the Government of Rio Grande do Norte; click the photos to view a much large image.

ponte natal

ponte natal

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ponte natal

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Death toll in federal highways in RN

On July 15th, newspaper Tribuna do Norte published a report about the number of people who died in transit accidents in the federal highways of Rio Grande do Norte.

The numbers don't cause any commotion among Brazilians (who are accostumed to hear such news), but they may shock visitors from other countries.

According to the Federal Highway Police (which must be called whenever there is an accident in federal highways), in the first semester of 2007 alone, 103 people died on federal highways; the number is up from 69 in the same period of last year; the number doesn't include the cases which happened in State roads, and doesn't include the cases where the victims die later on, because of the accidents.

The main cause of accidents is misbehaving of drivers. Disrespect to signalization (overspeeding, prohibited overtaking) and driving under influence of alcohol are very common.

The BR-101 (which leads to João Pessoa and Recife, in the south, and Touros, in the north) has the highest number of accidents, but the highest number of fatalities occurs at the BR-304 (which leads to Mossoró and then to Fortaleza).

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Friday, June 29, 2007

New airport in São Gonçalo: no sooner than 2010

Another schedule was announced with regards to the new airport to be built in the city of São Gonçalo, about 30 km from Natal.
When finished, it should be one of the largest airports in Brazil. More specifically, due to its position (near Europe and North America), it should be the largest cargo hub in Brazil. Natal should benefit from the increase in tourism and trading.

Several schedules have been announced so far, but little has been done. The main problem is that the airport requires a lot of money, and neither the Governments nor the private sectors are willing to take the risks.

Recently, a new planning was announced (see report in Portuguese here).

The new idea is that BNDES (Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social - National Bank for Economic and Social Development), an official bank which fomments businesses by loaning subsidized money, will provide the necessary funds.
The building of the airport will be chartered to a private company, to be chosen by a bidding process. The winner will use BNDES money to build the airport, and will be granted the rights to explore the business for a period (yet to be determined) of 20 or 30 years. This model is different from most other airports in Brazil, which are built and managed by the Federal Government (through an agency called Infraero).
Besides charging taxes from air companies and passengers, the charterer will have rights over the Special Exporting Zone which will be built around the airport.

According to officials, the fact that the Government and its bureaucracy will not be involved with the works should speed up the process.
If everything goes as planned, the new airport should be (partially) operating before the end of 2010.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Dollar breaks the R$2 barrier

Today, for the first time since February of 2001, the dollar fell below the R$ 2 barrier: markets closed with the course of US$1 = R$ 1.9890.

In 2002 and 2003, the dollar reached almost US$ 4, because President Lula used to defend ideas like non-payment of debts, punishment to wild capitalists, etc. However, after taking office, Lula continued (and in many cases deepened) the orthodox measures implanted by ex-President Fernando Henrique Cardoso. This continuity of Economy policies, along with the excellent conditions of the international financial market, caused the dollar to fall since 2004.

This is bad news for foreign tourists, and for businesses which depend on tourism.
Many Brazilian tourists are preferring a trip to Miami or Buenos Aires rather than the Northeast, because prices in dollar are falling.
On the other hand, tourists who bring dollars to spend in Brazil are seeing their money buying less and less.
The euro has not been loosing much to the Real, so prices in euros are not going up. However, with the increase of Brazilians travelling abroad (and they must return, eventually), airline companies have less seats to sell to foreigns; this decreases availability and increases prices of tickets.

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Ponta Negra bridge is re-opened

The Ponta Negra bridge, which links Avenida Roberto Freire to BR-101, was re-opened, now with an extra lane; there used to be two lanes from BR-101 to Avenida Roberto Freire and only one the opposite way; now there are two lanes each way.

This bridge is the one near Nordestão and Hiper, in one end, and Carrefour and Natal Shopping, in the other end.
Because of the high flow of vehicles from Ponta Negra to the BR-101, this bridge was one of the main transit bottlenecks in Natal. At rush hours, traffic jams were inevitable.

This is a feature which makes Natal stand out from other major Brazilian cities: not only transit flows smootherly, but also the authorities plan in advance to prevent problems from growing too big. In recent years, important works were done to improve transit in the city, such as the Complex 4th Centenary (near Machadão stadium), the loops and bridges in the cross ways to Fortaleza and Recife and the Redinha bridge.

Despite the big recent growth in the number of vehicles, Natal still has one of the best transit systems in Brazil.

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