The first phase of a tunnel connecting the two main tourist areas of Diamante and Dorada in Acapulco was inaugurated yesterday by representatives of the Guerrero and federal governments.
The 3.2-kilometer-long tunnel is the longest of its kind in Mexico, said Gerardo Ruiz Esparza, head of the Communications and Transportation Secretariat (SCT).
The part of the tunnel and its surrounding interchanges and junctions currently in operation represented an investment of almost 2.2 billion pesos (US $117 million).
The second phase of the project, which includes overpasses connecting with a second series of junctions at the Punta Diamante end of the tunnel, will represent an additional investment of 800 million pesos. Officials have yet to set a completion date for that phase.
Additional investment in infrastructure surrounding the project will bring its total cost to 3.8 billion pesos. Motorists will pay a 30-peso toll to use the tunnel.
Construction on what is called the Macrotúnel started in 2013 during the shortened administration of governor Ángel Aguirre Rivero, who stepped down during the social conflict that flared up in the aftermath of the disappearance in 2014 of 43 students of the Ayotzinapa teacher training college.
Scheduled to be completed in 2015, the tunnel faced a series of setbacks including protests by local residents who claimed that the blasting required in its construction was causing structural damage to their homes.
A workers’ strike, environmental violations and water filtration inside the tunnel that caused minor flooding and represented a risk of further damage were all major challenges the macro-tunnel had to overcome before its inauguration.
The three-lane tunnel is equipped with the latest security and operations technology, said the director of the Road and Airport Infrastructure Commission of Guerrero (CICAEG).
Over 70 cameras monitored from a control center are capable of detecting unusual traffic flows, and temperature and gas concentrations inside the tunnel are monitored and controlled through 14 automatic fans, explained Javier Taja Ramírez.
The safety of motorists traversing the country’s longest tunnel is improved by a fire protection system, a meteorological station, a loudspeaker system to broadcast messages and several emergency stations.
One of the three lanes is reversible, allowing for more efficient movement of traffic.
During the inauguration, Secretary Esparza announced a series of infrastructure projects aimed to “give Acapulco a prominent national and international presence.”
These include junctions that will make it easier for motorists travelling to Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, a new air terminal and a new 60-kilometer highway connecting the city of Puebla to the Autopista del Sol, enabling vacationers to travel between the two cities “in less than two and a half hours.”
The projects are intended to bring back the splendor that used to rank Acapulco as the favorite destination for national and international tourists, said Ruiz.