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Medellin’s Outdoor Escalator

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City receives outdoor escalators to improve traffic flow throughout its steep hillsides.

On December 26, 2011, the Colombian city of Medellin inaugurated a giant outdoor escalator for use by residents of one of its poorest slums. People living in the Comuna 13 district, which clings to a steep hillside, previously had to climb hundreds of steps to travel to and from the city center – a trip equivalent to climbing a 28-story building. The escalators shortened a half-hour walk to five minutes.

The escalator is divided into six sections and ascends nearly 1,260 ft. Almost 12,000 residents will benefit from the escalator, which is free to use and was constructed at a cost of US$6.7 million. City officials plan to build a covering for the escalators to shield passengers from inclement weather. Alonso Salazar, mayor of Medellin, stated the installation is one of the first massive, outdoor public escalator projects in the world aimed specifically at residents of a poor area. Officials hope the escalator, combined with other social projects, will better integrate Medellin’s residents with the rest of the city and the wider economy.

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