The Paso Express sinkhole that killed two people in July 2017. The Paso Express sinkhole that killed two people in July 2017.

Transport secretary predicts 2-year-old highway will need major surgery

Five danger spots have already been identified on the stretch of highway between Mexico City and Cuernavaca

The two-year old Cuernavaca Paso Express highway will likely require “major surgery,” according to the federal communications and transportation secretary.

The 14.5-kilometer stretch of road has been plagued with problems since it opened, including the appearance of a sinkhole in July 2017 that trapped a car, killing both occupants.

Javier Jiménez Espriú didn’t provide details about the work that will be carried out on the highway but said that technical studies are already under way. He stressed that there is no current risk to motorists using the road.

“We’re carrying out a study of the entire Paso Express, it will take a couple of months,” Jiménez told reporters at the National Palace, adding that all of the “delicate points” have already been identified.

“Everything’s under control and there’s no risk of any serious issue . . . Once we have the complete study we’ll probably carry out a major surgery,” he said.

Morelos authorities warned last August that there were at least five danger spots on the 10-lane highway, which was built by a private consortium consisting of the companies Aldesa and Epccor and cost almost 1 billion pesos (US $52.7 million at today’s exchange rate).

The highway’s problems, and in particular the sinkhole, were a significant source of tension between the previous federal government and former Morelos governor Graco Ramírez.

Former transportation secretary Gerardo Ruiz Esparza repeatedly denied responsibility for the problems, claiming that the Morelos government, the municipality of Cuernavaca and the principal contractor were to blame.

Ramírez said he warned Ruiz and former president Enrique Peña Nieto that the highway wasn’t ready to open when it did but they failed to heed his advice.

Local residents were aware of drainage problems on the section of the highway where the sinkhole appeared and warned officials about a damaged culvert but no action was taken to repair or replace it.

The secretary also said that the environmental impact statement for the Santa Lucía airport will be ready in coming days, whose completion will allow the project – currently stalled because of legal action – to begin.

Source: Reforma (sp) 

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