April 13, 2024
General News

Antioquia Sees Progress on ‘4G’ Highways, Ocean Freight Port, but Gov. Perez Blocks Toyo

Colombia’s national infrastructure development agency (ANI) announced in late January that progress is being made on crucial “fourth generation” (4G) highway projects (totaling COP$12 trillion/US$3.5 billion) in Antioquia, as well as the just-approved “Port Antioquia” ocean freight project.

Approved “4G” projects in Antioquia so far include construction of a second, 4.7-kilometers long tunnel (Tunel del Occidente) linking Medellin westward to Santa Fe de Antioquia –part of the “Mar 1” and “Mar 2” highway projects linking Medellin to new freight ports on the Caribbean.

Another key “4G” project includes two new highway tunnels (each 4.1 kilometers long) nearby the historic “Tunel de la Quiebra” railroad tunnel. This new highway will link Medellin north-eastward to the Rio Magdalena and the “Ruta del Sol” highway between Bogota and Atlantic Coast ports.

The new “Tunel de la Quiebra” highway tunnels are part of the COP$997 billion (US$268 million), privately funded “Vias del Nus” highway project that will run 157 kilometers north-eastward from Medellin, according to ANI.

In addition, the new “4G” highway projects will include a new, 1.4-kilometers-long bridge (see artist’s conception, above) over the Rio Magdalena near Puerto Berrio, Antioquia, according to ANI.

“We are very pleased to see how the department of Antioquia, which is one of the most important nodes of production in the country, will develop infrastructure that will make Antioquia even more efficient and competitive,” said ANI president Luis Fernando Andrade.

According to ANI, the following new “4G” highways will connect Antioquia’s production and distribution centers to key ports on both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts:

• Pacific Highway Connection 1: 49.7 kilometers, COP$1.8 trillion (US$532 million), now in pre-construction phase;
• Pacific Highway Connection 2: 98 kilometers, COP$925.6 billion (US$274 million), now in construction;
• Pacific Highway Connection 3: 146 kilometers, COP$1.3 trillion (US$384 million), now in construction;
• North Highway Connection: 145 kilometers, COP$1.1 trillion (US$325 million), inn pre-construction phase;
• Rio Magdalena Highway 2: 144 kilometers, COP$1.4 trillion (US$414 million), in pre-construction phase;
• Mar Highway 1: 176 kilometers, COP$1.57 trillion (US$464 million), in pre-construction phase;
• Mar Highway 2: 254 kilometers, COP$1.48 trillion (US$438 million), in pre-construction phase.
• Highway Antioquia-Bolivar (Private Sector): 491 kilometers, COP$1.1 trillion (US$325 million), in pre-construction phase; and.
• Highways Nus (Private Sector): 157.4 kilometers, COP$997 billion (US$268 million), contract finalized.

Port Antioquia Gets ANI OK

Meanwhile, Colombia’s Ministry of Transport announced in late January that ANI has given preliminary approval to the construction of new marine terminals at Puerto Antioquia, as well as the new Puerto Solo (Valle del Cauca) and Sociedad Portuaria Gulf bulk terminal (Córdoba).

The new port projects would mobilize all types of cargo including liquids, solids, bulk and general cargo, “which will contribute decisively to boost foreign trade in Colombia and increase the country’s competitiveness,” said Transport Minister Natalia Abello.

Port Antioquia is “highly strategic, since it is 40% closer to the main centers of production and consumption in the country including Bogota, Medellin, the Coffee Region and Tunja, corresponding to 70% of GDP,” according to the Ministry.

Toyo Tunnel Blocked by Gov. Perez

While Antioquia is making progress on developing its “4G” highways, unfortunately Antioquia’s newly elected Governor Luis Perez is putting up new roadblocks to the crucial “Toyo Tunnel” project that would be part of the new ‘4G” highway linking Medellin to Port Antioquia.

The Toyo Tunnel project earlier won financial backing from the city of Medellin, the department of Antioquia and the national government (see “Antioquia Awards Construction Contract for Crucial ‘Toyo Tunnel’ Project,” Medellin Herald, Oct 15, 2015).

However, newly elected Governor Perez claims that an independent project-oversight supervisor (Konfirma) — earlier contracted by the city, the department and the national government to oversee the Toyo Tunnel project — ought to be replaced by the Antioquia government.

This move by Gov. Perez – which threatens to delay or even wreck the project — has been criticized by Antioquia’s leading daily newspaper, El Colombiano.

According to news stories and an editorial published in El Colombiano, Gov. Perez is playing politics with the project by trying to grab control for egotistical reasons as well as for political vengeance against prior Governor Sergio Fajardo, who had backed a rival candidate in last fall’s departmental elections.

Antioquia has suffered economically for 100 years because of a lack of a direct port link to the Atlantic. Now, because of Gov. Perez’s obstinacy and inflated ego, the Toyo Tunnel project is in danger of losing COP$1.8 trillion (US$530 million) in federal funding, according to sources quoted in the El Colombiano report.

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