Slides are among the problems on Durango-Mazatlán Slides are among the freeway's problems.

2-year-old freeway in poor shape: governor

Natural conditions blamed but corruption has been mentioned

The Durango-Mazatlán freeway is just two years old but is already in urgent need of repairs, the governor of Durango said yesterday.

Landslides, potholes, blocked tunnels and asphalt that is in poor condition are among the problems besetting the 230-kilometer-long highway, which opened two years ago Friday and cost 28 billion pesos, or US $1.7 billion, to build.

Heavy rains have been blamed for many of the issues. State Deputy Pablo César Aguilar Palacio, chairman of the public works commission, said the highways’ problems are a result of natural causes. The freeway crosses the rugged terrain of the Sierra Madre Occidental.

But the director of Capufe, the federal agency responsible for federal bridges and highways, said in March 2014 that damage back then was a result of neglect in the freeway’s maintenance. Benito Neme Sastré announced an investment of 510 million pesos for rehabilitation of the road surface.

However, not much appears to have changed since, and there has been a least one call for a review of where highway maintenance funds have been spent. The Durango Business Coordinating Council says a large amount of money has been invested in that maintenance without much to show for it.

President Diana Ocón Alvarado said last month there should be an investigation into the resources spent to date to prevent corruption in the use of the funds.

Many drivers have used social media to share information, photos and complaints about the highway’s poor condition. Photos uploaded this week showed streams of water entering a tunnel through holes in the wall.

Described as one of Mexico’s greatest engineering feats, the highway has 116 bridges — including the world’s highest cable-stayed bridge, the Baluarte — and 61 tunnels. It initially cut the driving time between Durango and Mazatlán to three hours from five.

But because of its poor condition and the roadwork under way last month, there wasn’t much of a reduction in travel time. Single-lane traffic was common in some of the tunnels where workers were repairing damage to the walls.

In other places, along with the potholes, are spots where the road surface has sunk. Those who know the road, observed a report in Milenio, know when to contract their neck so as to avoid spinal damage.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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