RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — A light rail system that was meant to help soccer fans get around World Cup host city Cuiaba, in Brazil's remote Mato Grosso state, will not be ready in time for the tournament, a top state official says.
Mauricio Guimaraes, who heads World Cup projects in the far western state, said the 13 mile-long train lines won't be completed until December, more than five months after the end of the World Cup.
Mato Grosso's infrastructure projects have been plagued by delays, and news reports say 47 out of the state's 56 World Cup-related projects are delayed. Cuiaba's Arena Pantenal stadium, which is scheduled to hold four World Cup matches starting with Chile vs. Australia on June 13, was among six World Cup stadiums throughout Brazil that missed the Dec. 31 delivery deadline set by world soccer's governing body, FIFA.
Speaking Monday in an interview with TV Centro America, the Globo television network's local affiliate, Guimaraes blamed "various delays" for the setbacks, adding that "from now on, it will be fast."
"The projects are all in the conclusion phase," said Guimaraes. "The hardest part has already been concluded."
Still, he acknowledged that no track has yet been laid for the $621 million light rail system, which includes a link to the airport and was widely seen as the crowning jewel of the city's World Cup infrastructure projects.
"From now on it's quick. We will be laying down 200, 300, up to 400 meters of tracks each day," he said. "Therefore, the phase we are entering is quicker and with less interference in our execution of the work."
Guimaraes said he expected the other area projects would be completed in time for the World Cup, which is expected to bring some 500,000 foreign visitors to Brazil.
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