The completion of two highway projects in the southern state of Oaxaca is likely still years away, according to a high-ranking official in the federal Secretariat of Communications and Transportation (SCT).
A public works director at the SCT Oaxaca office told the newspaper NVI Noticias that there is no scheduled finishing date for the Oaxaca-Isthmus highway, while an upgrade to a leg of the coastal highway 200 between Puerto Escondido and Pochutla will take at least another three years to complete.
Jaime López Carrillo explained that the former, 9-billion-peso project — which would reduce travel time between the state capital and the Isthmus of Tehuantepec from four and a half hours to two — has been at a virtual standstill for the past two years.
The company building the road has claimed that it doesn’t have the funds to speed up the outstanding work, he said.
“They’re still working but it’s going slowly due to the conditions of the project . . .” López said, adding that mountainous terrain in the region significantly added to its cost.
“There is approximately 62% [of the project] left to finish, there’s no finishing date [and] it’s complicated to announce one. They always mention timeframes and none have been fulfilled,” he remarked.
With regard to the widening of a stretch of highway between Puerto Escondido and Pochutla, López said that protests had affected construction progress and added to budget costs.
“Federal highway 200 . . . has been complicated by situations of a social nature. The communities have stopped work a lot and sometimes it makes [the project] more expensive to pay or make agreements with them to comply with what they demand,” he explained.
One such community is El Macahuite, located in the municipality of Tonameca.
Residents of the town blocked the highway last year because they said work to widen it blocked existing water drainage, causing flooding in the community during times of heavy rain.
López said widening the stretch of the same highway between Pochutla and Huatulco was also under consideration for the future.
Another highway project connecting Oaxaca city to the state’s Pacific coast has also faced numerous problems and delays since construction first began in 2010.
At the time, Javier Lazcano Vargas said that the funding required for its conclusion — 3 billion pesos (US $160 million) — is assured and bulletproof.
However, López said that the money allocated by federal authorities for road maintenance and upgrades in Oaxaca — at the most 900 million pesos (US $48.3 million) — was insufficient for the state’s needs.