Uruguay - Transportation

After World War II, the Uruguayan government purchased the British-owned railroads and nationalized the entire system. The railroads are run by the State Railway Administration. Four main lines connect the western and northern areas with Montevideo. In 2002, there were 2,993 km (1,860 mi) of track, all of which were standard-gauge, government-owned track.

Highways have surpassed railroads as the principal means of conveyance of passengers and freight. In 2002, there were an estimated 8,764 km (5,446 mi) of roads, of which 7,800 km (4,847 mi) were paved. The Investment and Economic Development Commission's 10-year plan (1965-74) provided about $87 million for highway construction and improvement. A five-year plan for transport and public works, covering the years 1983-87 and partly financed by the IBRD and IDB, provided for construction of 10,000 km (6,200 mi) of new roads. In 1986, the IDB approved a loan of $36 million to help finance a highway development project. Two sections of highway (Routes 1 and 5) in addition to a main artery funneling traffic into Montevideo were scheduled for improvement. In 2000, there were 330,400 motor vehicles, of which 115,300 were passenger cars.

Montevideo is the major Uruguayan port. Colonia and Nueva Palmira are free ports. There are some 1,600 km (994 mi) of inland waterways, of which the most important are the Plata and the Uruguay; the latter has a depth of 4.3 m (14 ft) as far as Paysandú. There were two vessels in the merchant fleet in 2002, with a GRT of 7,752.

There were 64 airports in 2001, 15 of which had paved runways. Carrasco, an airport 19 km (12 mi) from the center of Montevideo, is used by most international carriers between Europe, Brazil, and Argentina. Frequent air service links Buenos Aires with Montevideo. The state-owned Primeras Líneas Uruguayas de Navegación Aérea (PLUNA) offers service to the principal departmental capitals as well as international flights. In 2001, 558,600 passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international airline flights.

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