Peru’s Congress voted unanimously Thursday in support of building a new access road to Machu Picchu.
In a 75-0 vote, lawmakers declared that paving the narrow dirt roads connecting the towns of Ollantaytambo, Santa María and Santa Teresa, located northwest of Machu Picchu, is “a public necessity and a priority of national interest.”
In January, train service to Machu Picchu was cut off after the Vilcanota River overran its banks, wiping out the rail line and stranding thousands of tourists for days until they were airlifted out by helicopter. The Inca Citadel, Peru’s biggest tourist attraction, was closed for two months.
Machu Picchu “is an economic resource and a symbol for the nation, and for that reason it is the duty of the state and the Congress to hand down the laws that allow us to guarantee its conservation and adequate accessibility,” said José Carrasco, chairman of the Congressional Budget Committee.
Since the disaster in January, pressure has been mounting from Peru’s tourism sector to develop other routes in and out of Machu Picchu, not only to provide emergency exits from the zone, but also to break the near-monopoly held by PeruRail and the town of Aguas Calientes, located in the gorge below the ruins.
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