Monday, June 24, 2024

President López Obrador to inaugurate new Oaxaca-Puerto Escondido highway

The long-awaited new highway linking Oaxaca city to the Pacific coast town of Puerto Escondido will be inaugurated on Sunday, more than eight years after it was originally slated to open.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced the imminent inauguration of the Oaxaca-Barranca Larga-Ventanilla highway at his Tuesday morning press conference.

The new highway will significantly shorten travel times between Oaxaca city and the popular beach resort town of Puerto Escondido. (Gobierno de Mexico)

“It took 15 years that highway [but] finally on Sunday we’re going to inaugurate it,” he said.

“It will be possible to go from Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido in two hours, 2 1/2 hours. It’s a great project, it will help the development of that whole area a lot, [benefit] the people of the communities of course and also tourism,” López Obrador said.

The Ministry of Infrastructure, Communications and Transport (SICT) touted the transformative power of the highway in a series of posts on social media.

“Great news for Oaxaca! The conclusion of the Barranca Larga-Ventanilla highway marks the beginning of a new era in mobility for rural and indigenous communities. They will now be able to access basic services and work opportunities more quickly,” the ministry said in a post on X on Tuesday.

Barranca Larga is located in the Central Valleys region of Oaxaca about 70 kilometers from the state capital, while Ventanilla is a community near Puerto Escondido, an increasingly popular tourism destination.

Construction of the 8.2-billion-peso (US $480 million) 104-kilometer-long highway between the two points has faced numerous delays, including ones caused by land disputes and landslides. As part of the project, the existing highway between Oaxaca city and Barranca Larga — Highway 175 — has been upgraded.

In another post on X, SICT said that the “100% completion” of the highway — which will replace the treacherous mountain road Highway 131 — “represents more and better opportunities for Oaxaca families.”

“Oaxaca is about to live a transport transformation,” the ministry said in yet another post that includes a video in which a resident of the town of Juquila speaks about the highway.

 

“How cool that finally after 10 years they’re going to inaugurate it,” said Jazmín Hernández.

“I think it’s a project that the region has been waiting for for a very long time. It’s a project with a lot of impact,” she said.

For his part, Infrastructure, Communications and Transport Minister Jorge Nuño Lara said that “the Oaxaca-Puerto Escondido highway will mark a turning point in the connectivity of the state.”

Travel time between the capital and the coast will be reduced to 2.5 hours from six or eight hours, he said.

A contract for the highway was originally awarded in 2009 during the presidency of Felipe Calderón.

Five years later, the original concessionaire ceded the rights to the project to another company, while in 2016, the project was about halfway done when it was suspended and passed to the National Infrastructure Fund. A completion target of July 2015 was originally targeted, but delays caused the expected opening date to be revised on numerous occasions.

After the highway opens this Sunday, traveling on it will be free for one year, according to José Luis Chida Pardo, the top SICT official in Oaxaca.

“On the president’s instruction, nothing will be charged the first year in order to promote [the highway] and make it more attractive for people,” he said.

SICT estimates that an average of 4,253 vehicles per day will use the highway, which at certain times over the years seemed unlikely to ever open at all.

With reports from El Heraldo de México, TV Azteca and Obras 

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