Super Highway To Oaxaca Revisted, February 2015
We have been reporting on the progress of the new highway to Oaxaca since the first issue of ¡Viva Puerto! in December 2010. At that time the Omega Group was responsible for the construction of the 104 km toll-road from Ventanilla, Colotepec to Barranca Larga, Ejutla that will cut the travel time from Puerto Escondido to Oaxaca to two hours. The projected completion date was 2012.
When ICA took over the project in 2012, the finish date was 2014. The official date now is the end of 2015, but unofficially ICA’s engineers think the end of 2016 is a more realistic target.
The Santa Martha tunnel, begun in November is as of February maybe 50% complete, and work has just begun on the second tunnel, in San Antonio Lalana. The other tunnels have not been started.
As seen in the photo below of section 2 (between the Colotepec River and the Santa Martha tunnel) the highway will be a straight road. This is not what it looks like now in the 40 kilometers between the southern end of the tunnel and San Pablo Coatlán. (The northern end of the highway, which does not pass through mountains, is almost finished.)
Work hasn’t even begun on a 6-km stretch in San Sebastián in the middle of the highway between the San Sebastián and San Pablo tunnels. Two communities, San Sebastián Coatlán and San Francisco, San Pablo lay claim to this rugged, pineforested mountain area, and ICA cannot enter until the situation is resolved by the State. Most likely San Sebastian will keep the money it has already been paid and San Francisco will get a similar amount in infrastructure improvements. But these sensitive issues take months to negotiate. (See ¡Viva Puerto! #14.)
There are also unresolved labor disputes that lead to sporadic work stoppages. (See ¡Viva Puerto! #13.) Still, the immensity of the project, the amount of earth that has to be moved and fortified to fill in the sides of steep mountains to create a 3-lane roadway is mind-boggling.
1,982 construction workers and 397 technicians, engineers and administrators work in two shifts, five and a half days a week. ICA buses leave Puerto at 4:30 a.m. to get people to the various sites on time. The day shift goes from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. The night shift is from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m.
ICA allotted millions of pesos to build or improve dirt roads that will provide access to the highway’s entrances. One road goes from highway 131 through La Reforma and goes on to San Pablo via Cieneguilla and other mountain communities. Another connects Cieneguilla with Comitlán and Tamarindo to the San Antonio Lalana junction. Up until a few months ago, these were the routes that ICA used to bring their equipment in.