Laguna Garzón is located on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, about 140 km from the capital of Uruguay – Montevideo. It is a natural obstacle on the way from the department of Maldonado to the department of Rocha. The Uruguayan Ministry of Transportation had been planning to build a bridge over Laguna Garzón since the 1950s, but it was not completed until late 2015.

Starting in 1995 and until 2015, it was possible to move from one coast to another on a ferry that could accommodate only 2 cars; larger ferries could not move across the lagoon due to its shallow depth. The ferry operated exclusively during the day and only in good weather. And until 1995, the journey from one shore of the lagoon to the other took almost an hour, since you had to take a detour, which is about 52 km.

Bypass around Laguna Garzon

During the bridge’s grand opening, the mayor of the nearby town of Rocha said it took 10 years for the project to be approved. The process was slowed down both by bureaucratic obstacles to construction on the reserve territory and by the budget issue. A total of 232,000 people live in the adjoining departments, so building a multi-million dollar bridge for local governments is no mean feat.

However, far from being the most budgetary project, a ring structure on 16 supports was chosen for $10 million. Its length was 250 meters with a diameter of 202 meters. The reason for the construction of such an unusual bridge lies in the Las Garzas tourist kit, which is located near Rocha and belongs to the Argentine developer Eduardo Constantini.

The latter expressed his desire to finance the construction of the circular bridge, whose design was proposed by the Uruguayan architect Rafael Vignoli. Ultimately, Constantini allocated $8 million for the project, leaving the administration with only $2 million to invest. This architectural masterpiece is now touted as one of the highlights of the Las Garzas complex on its official website.

It would seem that the ring shape of the bridge has little to do with common sense, but in reality, this project has a number of advantages:

  • the shape of the ring forces drivers to slow down, which has a positive effect on traffic safety. Additionally, one-way traffic eliminates the possibility of a head-on collision and blinding of headlights from cars in the opposite direction;
  • low speed helps reduce noise pollution. And this is an important factor, since the bridge is located in the territory of the Bagnados del Este Biosphere Reserve, which, due to its high biodiversity, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site;
  • from the ring it offers an impressive panoramic view of the surroundings of the lagoon. Oncoming traffic does not disturb the view;
  • the bridge was planned as a point of attraction for tourists, for their convenience paths were set up both outside and inside the ring. In general, the bridge successfully copes with this task, but the architect was still not satisfied with the implementation of the project. According to his idea, the bridge should become, first of all, a pedestrian area for walking, and the passage of cars on it was just one more opportunity.

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Source: IXBT

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