(MEDELLIN, Colombia) — For generations residents of Comuna 13, a hillside neighborhood in the Colombian city of Medellin, have had to climb the equivalent of roughly 28 flights of stairs a day just to get home from the center of the city.
But they will no longer have to take the exhausting 35-minute hike up the hillside thanks to a massive, outdoor escalator constructed by the Colombian government. According to Colombian officials, the $6.7 million escalator will shorten the trip to only 6 minutes, a fact which is not lost on the grateful residents of Comuna 13.
Planners hope that the escalator will help reinvigorate and reinvent the community, which is most associated with deceased drug lord Pablo Escobar and his cocaine smuggling operation, the Medellin Cartel. Escobar enjoyed tremendous popularity among Medellin residents due to his tendency to spread his drug fortune among the populace, giving large sums to help members of the community and ensure their loyalty. Escobar was killed in the city during a 1993 shootout with Colombian police.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio
Barbara Starr, CNN
Evan McKirdy, Tim Hume and James Masters, CNN
Dave Gilbert, CNN