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Driving Between Santos and Sao Paulo

Sao Paulo and Santos are linked by two spectacular roads, the Rodovia Anchieta and the Rodovia dos Imigrantes. The Anchieta is the much older of the two, with construction having started in the 1920s. This road, the principal truck route between the largest port and the largest metropolitan area, winds up and down the mountain with sharp and challenging curves. The heavy truck traffic makes it one of the most challenging motorway drives in the world. The road is now four lanes from Santos to the southern part of the Sao Paulo urbanized area, where it becomes much wider, and it typical Sao Paulo fashion, splits into four roadways (two local, two express). The Imigrantes is much newer. It opened in 1998 and the southern section was converted into a motorway (dual carriageways) within the last year. By North American or Western European standards, this impressive roadway was built very inexpensively, for approximately $300 million. The Imigrantes begins in the city, with a very wide road that narrows to six lanes (three in each direction) from the south end of Sao Paulo to the end of the roadway, a few kilometers north of Santos, where it merges with the Anchieta. The road is a bit more than 40 miles long (70 kilometers). Both roads wind through very green, lush forest. Both have extensive tunnels and viaducts.

But it is the Immigrantes that is, in the contemporary context, the engineering marvel. The road has more than four miles of tunnels, some longer than the longest highway tunnel in North America (Eisenhower in the Colorado Rockies). There are more than three miles of bridges. At one point the two roadways cross over (picture). This unusual design duplicates that of the Grapevine between Los Angeles and Bakersfield, where the northbound roadway is to the left of the southbound, with perhaps 1,000 feet in between, for a few miles north of Castaic. The motorway approaching Chamonix from the west (on the way to the Mount Blanc Tunnel) also does such a crossover. The two roadways on the Imigrantes are also separated by a comparatively large distance, with, again, the northbound roadway being to the left of the southbound roadway. Both of these roadways, and others, are concessioned to Ecovias dos Imigrantes. The tolls are expensive by North American standards, but not by European, and, o course, the road is paid for directly by users based entirely on the extent of their use of the particular roadways (as opposed to the user fee system in the United States where all of the fees go into a large fund that is divided, o ften politically, without regard to where the funds were collected or the extent of use).

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