The cost of the Santa Lucía airport has increased for a second time before construction has even begun.
The Defense Secretariat (Sedena), which is in charge of the project, says that building the airport and a highway connecting Mexico City, as well as relocating military facilities on the air force base site, will cost 91.97 billion pesos (US $4.8 billion), a 17% increase over the cost estimated in April.
According to a report in the newspaper El Economista, information in a Sedena document that gives the reasons for the overrun has been classified as reserved and so it is unclear which aspects of the project have increased in cost and why.
The projected cost of the airport increased for the first time in April mainly due to the presence of a hill less than 10 kilometers from the construction site.
The position of the airport’s two commercial runways had to be changed in the project’s master plan due to the close proximity of the 2,625-meter-high Cerro de Paula. As a result, several military facilities will have to be relocated at an estimated cost of more than 6.7 billion pesos.
Coupled with higher than expected costs to purchase land that will serve as a sound buffer around the airport, the price tag for the México state project increased in April from 70.34 billion pesos to 78.55 billion.
Sedena said the new projected cost doesn’t include expenses associated with pre-investment studies nor the purchase of technical equipment that Navigation Services for Mexican Airspace, a government agency, will require for the operation of the facility.
The former will cost 885.6 million pesos and the latter 1.87 billion pesos.
The defense department said the total construction time will be 30 months, meaning that if it starts this month it will be completed in February 2022, one month later than anticipated in July.
The Secretariat of the Environment granted conditional approval for the airport last week but the #NoMásDerroches collective, which has initiated legal action against the project, argued that construction still can’t begin because other studies remain outstanding and injunctions it obtained are still in force.
A government financial report for the second quarter of the year said that the airport was 3% complete at the end of June and that more than 3.8 billion pesos had already been spent on it although work has not commenced.
Sedena justified its management of the project by stating that if private construction companies rather than military engineers took charge, it was possible that it would not be finished on time and costs would balloon.
It also said that private sector workers could go on strike without justification and that sensitive national security information could be leaked.
Construction of the Santa Lucía airport is part of the government’s three-pronged plan to meet rising demand for airline services in the Valley of Mexico. Existing airports in Mexico City and Toluca, México state, will be upgraded.
President López Obrador canceled the previous government’s airport project at Texcoco after a legally questionable public consultation last October.
Source: El Economista (sp)