The six-hour trip from Oaxaca city to the coast on winding rural roads may soon be a thing of the past.
On Friday, President López Obrador announced that work will restart on two Oaxaca highways that had been suspended.
Construction of the Barranca Larga-Ventanilla highway, which will connect the state capital to Puerto Escondido, had begun during the administration of president Felipe Calderón, but work has been carried out in fits and starts since, held up by financial problems among the contractors and accusations by rural landowners on the route that they had not been fully paid for their land.
Politicians have repeatedly promised completion of the highway, with the most recent declaration in March 2018, when authorities gave a completion date of November this year.
The new date, according to President López Obrador, is 2022.
“This is such an important highway, because it goes to the coast, to Puerto Escondido,” he said. “This highway was started 10 years ago, but was interrupted, it was discontinued. And now, we’re making a formal commitment to the people of Oaxaca that this highway will be finished by 2022.”
With an investment of 8.3 billion pesos (US $431 million), the Oaxaca-Coast highway will drastically reduce the travel time from Oaxaca City to Puerto Escondido from six to 2 1/2 hours.
Parts of the highway will be built by the residents of the communities it passes through, and without the use of heavy machinery to generate a greater benefit for the region.
López Obrador also announced that work will restart on the Mitla-Tehuantepec highway, which will better connect the state capital to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. He said the highway will be completed within 40 months.
The president signed an agreement with businessman Carlos Slim, under which companies owned by Slim will build much of the highway with an investment of 8 billion pesos, while the federal government will invest 3 billion.
In an interview with La Jornada after the agreement was signed, Slim said that highways and other infrastructure projects in southern Mexico are important to improve the standard of living in the region.
“There need to be a lot of projects,” he said. “We need to develop the railroad, the port, the refinery, and it should be financed by public and private money. We need to promote development in this region.”
Slim also spoke positively of López Obrador’s goals to fight poverty and corruption and create economic growth.
“We can’t agree more with those goals,” he said. “I am enthusiastic about them and I think they’re very good.”