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Ruiz Esparza, left, and Murat at a ceremony yesterday to restart highway construction. Ruiz Esparza, left, and Murat at a ceremony yesterday to restart highway construction.

New Oaxaca highway gets under way—again

Highway to the coast to be finished in 15-20 months

After years of delays, construction on a new highway connecting Oaxaca city and the state’s Pacific coast restarted yesterday with the backing of a 3.5-billion-peso (US $191-million) investment.

The latest estimate — and there have been many over the years — is that the Oaxaca-Barranca Larga-Ventanilla highway will now be completed in a period of 15 to 20 months, or by the end of November 2019.

Work on the highway came to a standstill last year, sparking speculation that it could be canceled.

But at an event marking the resumption of work, Transportation Secretary Gerardo Ruiz Esparza asserted that the federal government is committed to the project’s completion and recognized Oaxaca Governor Alejandro Murat’s efforts to secure a refinancing package for it.

Funding from the state development bank Banobras guarantees the project, Murat said, adding that even after a new federal administration takes office there will be no turning back because the resources are “non-transferable.”

The governor also took aim at the two governors that preceded him, charging that they left behind a “white elephant” due to their “lack of commitment, inefficiency and lack of capacity.”

In contrast, Murat — in office since December 2016 — said that he rowed against the current to meet the demands of the residents of Oaxaca, who want competitive and efficient highway projects that support the state’s economic activities such as tourism, industry, fishing and agriculture.

“This is the start of the work that represents the fulfillment of the desires of the people of Oaxaca. Oaxaca is celebrating today and is moving forward on the right path . . .” he said.

Ruiz Esparza said 56% of the work has already been completed and highlighted the benefits it will bring when it opens.

“This project will allow residents of the center of the republic to easily travel [to the coast] on a weekend, bringing with it economic development to the region,” he said.

The new highway — which will include 11 bridges, three tunnels, nine junctions and two toll sets of booths — is expected to cut travel time between the state capital and the coast by one-half, making tourist destinations such as Puerto Escondido and Huatulco accessible within three hours or less.

Ruiz Esparza also said that the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation (SCT) is committed to restarting work on another stalled highway project that will improve the connection between Oaxaca city and the state’s Isthmus of Tehuantepec region.

The secretary said that 2.5 billion pesos (US $136.8 million) will be invested to complete that project and the aim is to finish the work before President Enrique Peña Nieto leaves office at the end of November.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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