President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced during his Monday morning press briefing that several landslides had occurred on the long-anticipated Oaxaca-Puerto Escondido highway, making it impossible to inaugurate the project on Nov. 29, as planned.
According to the president, two slopes along the route collapsed due to rains reported over the weekend.
Repair work on the highway is estimated to last a couple of months before the site’s inauguration on a new date: January 2024. Prior to the accident, the entire route was one bridge away from becoming functional, the president explained.
“This is bad news, but we will still ensure that it is inaugurated in early January,” López Obrador added.
The project has faced numerous setbacks including technical issues and social conflicts, particularly since the initial contract was awarded in 2009, and then the original concessionaire transferred the project rights to another company in 2014. In 2016, one year past its original projected completion date, the halfway-completed project was suspended again and handed over to the National Infrastructure Fund (Fonadin).
In August last year, officials were still expecting the highway to open by the end of 2022.
The new highway – which will replace existing Highway 131, a treacherous 102-kilometer mountain road – will allow travelers to get from Oaxaca city to Puerto Escondido in 2.5 hours instead of the current 6 hours it currently takes to reach the Pacific Coast beach destination.