Gran Avenida

2012-09-06 11.08.24

San Diego

Gran Avenida is a major north-south axis, 21 kilometers in length, that crosses five communes of the Greater Santiago metropolitan area. The corridor begins at Alameda Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins (the city’s historical center) as a one-way pair of streets, Nataniel Cox and San Diego, which merge at the Zanjón de la Aguada creek to form Gran Avenida. Gran Avenida continues south to the La Cisterna commune, where Los Morros Avenue splits off to the east. The western continuation of Gran Avenida enters the center of the San Bernardo commune, where it runs parallel to a north-south intercity rail line before changing names to Avenida Portales and finally merging with the Panamerican Highway, which continues to the south of Chile.

As an axis of the city’s growth, Gran Avenida exemplifies Santiago’s traditional pattern of urban segregation, with middle and high income residents near the historic center and groups of lower income residents concentrated in dense peripheral areas. Addressing this segregation, and the associated lack of services and opportunities in the outlying areas, is a key planning and transportation challenge. At the same time, through its role as a metropolitan connector, important amenities and government facilities are located along the avenue, including forty-three educational institutions, three regional shopping centers, two major hospitals, and a military base.

Gran Avenida runs above Line 2 of the Santiago Metro from the Zanjón de la Aguada (Franklin Station) to the Américo Vespucio South ring road (La Cisterna Station). La Cisterna Station is a major intermodal transfer point, which more than 150,000 passengers use on an average weekday. Another important transfer point is the former southern terminus of Line 2, Lo Ovalle, with more than 12,500 passengers transferring on an average weekday. Three intercity rail stations are located along Avenida Portales.



Gran Avenida is used by twenty-five bus routes, and is a priority corridor for the Subus operating company, which is the only company which has routes along the entirety of the corridor. Other companies can operate along the corridor for short segments if there are not alternative parallel streets. Los Morros is a priority corridor for the Vule operating company. While average bus speeds are relatively high along the corridor, congestion in the segments close to the center of Santiago slow travel times and degrade service reliability for the rest of the corridor.

In terms of the corridor’s physical characteristics, in the historic center, the streets of the one-way pair have variable widths but are less than 20 meters wide. From the Zanjón de la Aguada to Salesianos Street in the San Miguel commune, Gran Avenida runs along El Llano Subercaseaux Park. From Salesianos south, Gran Avenida has a cross-section of 30 meters though La Cisterna and El Bosque. In this entire segment, the sidewalks are never wider than three meters. Vegetation is generally sparse, except for a line of hundred-year old oriental plane trees in the El Bosque segment. Los Morros Avenue has a variable width, never greater than 25 meters, and lacks significant vegetation. Avenida Portales also has a variable width, with established trees along its shoulders.

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