Sunday, August 18, 2019

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Infrastructure 12

Medellin-based electric power giant EPM announced August 15 that local leaders from communities around Puerto Valdivia, Antioquia are now participating in a broad government/citizen/EPM expert panel examining possible stability issues with the main rock massif adjacent to the giant Hidroituango hydroelectric dam in Antioquia.

The decision to include the “MEDAV” (Mesa de Dialogos y Acuerdos-Afectados por Hidroituango, Valdivia) leadership group came following an August 10 letter from MEDAV to a Colombian court judge charged with overseeing the multiparty panel now studying the Hidroituango stability issue.

In its letter, the MEDAV group pointed out to the judge that the left-wing political organization “Rios Vivos” – a current member of the multi-party study panel -- fails to represent the affected Valdivia community and “hasn’t made any positive contribution to solving the problems generated” by the May 2018 collapse of a Hidroituango diversion tunnel.

That tunnel collapse last year triggered a flood that temporarily forced evacuation of many homes in Valdivia downstream of the dam.

“Rios Vivos” has fought the Hidroituango hydroelectric project since its inception -- and publicly calls for the dam’s destruction now, no matter whether it would operate safely, and no matter that such a destruction would cost Antioquia untold billions of dollars in future public revenue via the production of zero-emissions, clean electricity for all Colombian citizens.

Instead, Rios Vivos “has dedicated itself to creating panic and delaying the process of bringing about positive solutions for our community,” according to MEDAV.

Since the Hidroituango dam has now been completed, and since the Cauca River is now safely flowing over the dam’s engineered spillway, Valdivia residents are gradually returning to homes previously evacuated.

“Persons and families that suffered from the [sudden, temporary flooding that resulted from the diversion tunnel collapse in May 2018] don’t consider themselves ‘victims’ of Hidroituango, but rather ‘temporary casualties’ affected by the [temporary flooding] -- and we value the efforts by EPM to repair all the damages caused,” according to the MEDAV letter.

“Contrary to what ‘Rios Vivos’ claims, the communities around Puerto Valdivia have built relations of trust with EPM, because this company has kept us informed about the measures they have taken to repair the damages and to minimize the risks of the project. In addition, EPM has complied with the commitments they have assumed to help those affected,” the letter concludes.

In an August 15 press bulletin, EPM added that the technical panel has now met six times, with a seventh meeting scheduled August 28 and a site visit scheduled for September 2-3.

The panel eventually aims to produce a technical study analyzing the stability of the rock massif adjacent to the dam -- in order to decide whether the Hidroituango project should continue to move forward.

The US$5 billion Hidroituango project is scheduled to start producing power in late 2021, then reach its full 2.4-gigawatts capacity in 2024 -- providing 17% of the entire Colombian electric power output.


After decades of delays, a new, COP$1.1 trillion (US$317 million), 24-kilometers-long highway -- including Colombia’s longest tunnel – on August 15 opened to link Medellin directly to the Jose Maria Cordoba (JMC) international airport at Rionegro.

According to Concesion Tunel Aburra-Oriente (CTAO, the project consortium involving 74 companies), the new highway -- including two long tunnels, one short tunnel and nine viaducts -- would cut travel time from Medellin to JMC to 18 minutes, compared to 45 minutes currently.

The route also will cut other personal transit times to and from Medellin and the rapidly growing “oriente” (east of Medellin) region. Drawn to its pleasurably cooler climate, cleaner air and more wide-open spaces, Medellin residents are increasingly moving east into thousands of new “oriente” homes and businesses every year, toward what locals dub “Medellin’s second floor.”

“The Aburrá-Oriente Road Connection is a mega-project that connects the Aburrá Valley Metropolitan Area with the San Nicolás Valley -- two regions of great importance for our [Antioquia] department, including large-scale industrial, tourist, environmental and mobility dynamics,” according to CTAO.

“Starting in Medellín, in the Baltimore sector of the Las Palmas highway, a new road interchange allows access to the first tunnel, with a length of 774 meters.

“After this tunnel, there is an open-sky track in the east-central area of the Aburrá Valley, then comes a second tunnel of 8.2 kilometers in length.”

A parallel tunnel alongside the new tunnel has already been excavated in anticipation of converting the two-lane highway into four lanes -- divided for faster travel in both directions.

While some politicians and local residents historically had raised concerns that the tunnel might drain vital groundwater from local farms near the route, the CTAO consortium responded by employing the most advanced European tunnel-construction technologies, according to CTAO.

Beyond employing a special cement to prevent water escape into the tunnels, the consortium also installed 77 groundwater monitoring systems, according to CTAO.


The “Covipacifico” highway construction consortium announced August 14 that its engineers have begun initial work towards recovery of a 300-meters-long section of the crucial, under-construction “Pacifico 1” highway wiped out by a landslide last May.

The landslide not only destroyed the new section of highway but also wrecked a 300-meters-long section of existing highway below, blocking the traditional route between Medellin’s southern suburb of Caldas and the town of Bolombolo alongside the Cauca River.

As a result, freight traffic southwestward from Medellin toward the main Pacific port of Buenaventura has been forced to take lengthy and costly detours. Final resolution of the landslide problem is likely to take many more months.

“After the [land] mass movement that happened suddenly on May 28 that affected the existing road and the Pacifico 1 divided highway under construction, Covipacifico now works constantly and responsibly in the search for solutions that allow to recover mobility in the Sinifaná sector (PR 59 + 600 and PR 60 + 000) of Colombia Route 6003,” according to the consortium.

“Thanks to the best climatic and safety conditions that have occurred in the affected area in the last 15 days, it has been possible for specialist [engineers] to access the site in order to establish mitigation measures.

“Currently, Covipacifico through its construction contractor mobilizes the resources necessary to advance the actions recommended by the experts.

“Part of the approaches to be implemented [include] the construction of canals and drain structures for water management, critical [land-] mass management, implementation of deep drains in slopes and control structures at the top of the slope.

“Additionally, an early warning monitoring system will be implemented that will allow for timely reaction to any eventuality.

“The implementation and progress of this mitigation phase will define technical alternatives that enable removal and recomposition activities in the area, and thus seek to obtain a temporary, gradual and secure solution for [traffic] user mobility,” according to the consortium.



Colombia’s national infrastructure agency (Agencia Nacional de Infraestructura, ANI) announced July 31 that the 254-kilometers-long “Mar 2” highway project connecting Medellin to new Atlantic ports just won financial close.

According to ANI, the project got US$652 million in finance from three sources: China Development Bank (US$418 million), Sumitomo Mitsui Banking (US$84 million) and Colombia’s Financiera de Desarrollo Nacional (FDN) finance agency (US$150 million).

Colombia President Iván Duque announced the financing deal following a meeting in Beijing this week with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“Mar 2” is the first “fourth generation” (4G) highway concession project in Colombia involving China Harbour Engineering Company, according to ANI.

Once “Mar 2” and the connecting “Mar 1” highways are complete, freight transport between Medellin and new ports in the Uraba region will be slashed to four hours, greatly improving the competitiveness of Medellin’s industrial and commercial sectors.

The Mar 2 project includes 54 bridges and 19 tunnels, and will make connections with several “4G’ highways as well as the under-construction “Toyo" tunnel west of Medellin, which will become Colombia’s longest tunnel -- and one of the largest in all South America..

‘Pacifico 1’ Tunnel Excavation Completed

On another front, the US$790 million “Pacifico 1” 4G highway project between Medellin’s southern suburb of Caldas and the Cauca River port town of Bolombolo just completed excavation of two parallel, 2.8-kilometers-long tunnels near Sinifaná in Antioquia.

Following the excavations, the next step is lining the tunnels with concrete and installing lighting, fire controls and emergency communications systems, according to ANI.

While completion of the “Sinifaná” tunnel excavation is a positive step forward, the same project suffered a reversal two months ago when heavy rains caused a landslide that wiped-out a 300-meters-long stretch of under-construction “Pacifico 1” highway as well as 300 meters of the existing highway below, temporarily blocking the most convenient route between Medellin and Bolombolo.

Restoration of the existing highway and reconstruction of the ruined section of new highway is expected to take many months, probably pushing-back the expected completion date of Pacifico 1.


Colombia’s national infrastructure agency (Agencia Nacional de Infraestructura, ANI) announced July 12, 2019 that the COP$110 billion (US$34 million) expansion of the cargo terminal at Medellin’s José María Córdova (JMC) international airport is nearly complete.

“The project awarded by ANI to the operator of Aeropuertos Centro Norte (Airplan) seeks via this extension to improve the logistics process of imports and exports, and reduce costs and transport times in this area of the country,” according to the agency .

The expansion works in the cargo terminal include adaptation of an administrative center, a cargo and warehousing service module, the extension of more than 33,000 square meters of taxiways and berms, the expansion of the platform that will expand from the current 14,000 square meters to more than 27,000 square meters and the construction of about 16,000 square meters of parking, according to ANI.

“Currently, this terminal serves the cargo transported by specialized airlines such as Avianca Cargo, Centurion Cargo, UPS, Aerosucre, Cargo Cup, Cargolux, Latam Cargo, Air Canada Cargo, Fedex and DHL as well as commercial passenger flights,” according to ANI.

“Among exportable products by air, flowers are considered the main transit through this terminal to destinations such as the United States, with the highest percentage of shipments, as well as to Japan, United Kingdom, Canada, the Netherlands, Spain and Russia.

“Among the new works was the adaptation of 3000 square meters of cold rooms that will allow a better management of [flower exports] and other loads, especially agricultural goods. It is estimated that, on average, flower shipments take between 11 and 16 hours from the initial harvesting to loading on the planes,” according to the agency.

Single Inspection Zone

Meanwhile, the new terminal also features one of the first single-cargo-inspection zones in all Colombia. This new area “seeks to implement new inspection procedures to streamline routine exercises carried out by entities such as the National Tax and Customs Directorate of Colombia (DIAN), the Anti-Narcotics police, the Invima (Colombia’s sanitary inspection regulatory agency) and the ICA (Colombia’s national agricultural research agency), according to ANI.

Passenger Traffic Jumps

On a related front, Grupo Aeroportuario del Sureste (GAdS) announced  July 3 that domestic passenger traffic through JMC airport from January through June 2019 is already up 19% year-on-year, totalling 4.7 million passengers. Meanwhile, international passenger traffic through JMC from January-June 2019 likewise is up 13% year-on-year, to 857,136 passengers.


Colombia’s national infrastructure agency (Agencia Nacional de Infraestructura, ANI) announced February 27, 2019 that the existing, congested two-lane highways connecting Rionegro, Llanogrande and Medellin’s Jose Maria Cordova (JMC) international airport will expand to four lanes.

The COP$118 billion (US$38 million) project will tap funds generated by the existing toll booths of the various “Devimed” highways east of Medellin, according to ANI.

“The [highway expansion] works will begin after the delivery of [adjacent] properties by the Civil Aeronautics Authority [Aerocivil], the government of Antioquia and the municipality of Rionegro,” according to ANI.

In total, 12.6 kilometers of existing two-lane highways will expand to four lanes, linking the city of Rionegro to Llanogrande and then onward to the existing roundabout adjacent to JMC airport.

The rapidly growing “oriente” region east of Medellin is about to experience even more traffic congestion when the “Tunel de Oriente” tunnel linking Medellin to JMC airport opens as expected in May or June 2019.

“The next step for the start of the work will be the delivery of the [adjacent] properties by the government of Antioquia and the Aerocivil for the construction of the 6.4-kilometer stretch between Llanogrande and the roundabout to the Airport, while the municipality of Rionegro must deliver [properties adjacent to] the corresponding to 6.2 kilometers between Rionegro and Llanogrande,” according to ANI.

The “Devimed” highways east of Medellin include the four-lane, divided highway between Acevedo (north Medellin, near Bello) and Santuario -- all part of the existing Medellin-Bogota highway.

Other “Devimed” toll highways east of Medellin include the existing two-lane roads connecting El Retiro, La Ceja, La Union, Carmen de Viboral, Marinilla and Santuario.


Medellin Mayor Federico Gutiérrez announced June 13, 2019 that the city’s enormously popular “Metro” public-transport network will add yet another zero-emissions aerial-tram “Metrocable” system -- helping to stem air pollution mainly caused by obsolete diesel and gasoline vehicles.

The 2.8-kilometers-long, COP$298 billion (US$99 million) “El Picacho” aerial tram is due to start-up in late 2019, he estimated.

Local residents had to abandon nearly 400 homes to make way for construction of the new route.

The “Picacho” line would serve about 160,000 people living in the working-class Northwest neighborhoods of Castilla and Doce de Octubre.

That line will join Metro’s existing electric-powered Metro rail system, an expanding electric-powered “Tranvia” road-tram network, the “Encycla” bicycle system, and the low-emissions, natural-gas-fueled “Metroplus” bus rapid transit (BRT) systems, which are gradually being replaced by 100% pure electric buses.

Medellin gets virtually all its electric power from zero-emissions hydroelectric dams, with Medellin-based power utility EPM expanding capacity with the 2.4-gigawatt “Hidroituango” hydropower plant partially starting-up in late 2021.

Exito, EPM Team-up on EV Recharging

Meanwhile, Medellin-based multinational supermarket giant Exito has gradually expanded a network of public electric vehicle (EV) recharging stations in Medellin – initially at the Éxito Poblado supermarket and at the “Viva” mall in the Laureles neighborhood.

While only a handful of EVs exist in Medellin to-date, local car manufacturer Renault (and its joint-venture partner Nissan) is one of the world’s leading makers of mass-market EVs -- mainly in Europe, so far. Renault initially launched sales of its “Twizy” mini-EV here and then in 2018 debuted the "Zoe" EV four-passenger sedan. BMW, Nissan, Mitsubishi and BYD also are marketing pure EVs here.

 


The “Corvipacifico” construction consortium and highway authorities announced May 29, 2019 that a huge landslide near Sinifaná wrecked a 300-meters-long section of the under-construction “Pacifico 1” highway as well a nearby, 300-meters-long section of the existing highway between the southern Medellin suburb of Caldas and the town of Bolombolo alongside the Cauca River.

Officials estimate that the resulting road closures will take many more months to fix, forcing traffic to take longer, alternative routes likely through much of 2020.

The bad news overshadows earlier news from September 2018 that construction works had restarted on the long-delayed “Pacifico 1” highway between Medellin and Bolombolo.

That highway will connect via a new bridge across the Cauca River with the under-construction “Pacifico 2” highway linking Bolombolo to Primavera and then to “Pacifico 3” highway all the way to the main Pacific freight port of Buenaventura.

To facilitate construction on “Pacifico 1,” Corvipacifico had been closing the existing highway between Puerto Escondido and Bolombolo from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

According to Corfipacifico, construction also had begun on the two big tunnels for Pacifico 1 project, at Amagá (3.6- kilometers length) and Sinifaná (1.3-kilometers).

“These two tunnels that will cross the imposing and rugged geography of Antioquia will be added to the new generation of tunnels throughout Colombia,” according to the group.

The Sinifaná tunnel is three kilometers from the town center of Bolombolo, and the Amagá tunnel is located in the municipality of Amagá, a long-time center of artisanal coal extraction.

“The tunnels respectively will be equipped with all the technological equipment for their operation and control with the best safety specifications [including] a ventilation system, lighting, communications, variable signaling and fire protection,” according to the group.

“Following the excavation activities that began recently, we foresee completion in September 2019 in the case of the Sinifaná tunnel, and in September 2021 we foresee completion of the Amagá tunnel,” according to the group.

The COP$3.58 trillion (US$1.2 billion) “Pacifico 1” project reached financial close two years ago, but construction work has been extremely slow.

“Pacifico 1” will total 50.2 kilometers in length, including the two tunnels, 54 new bridges and three new intersections.


Pacifico 2 La Pintada update April 2019

Thursday, 11 July 2019 17:48 Written by

‘Pacifico 2,’ ‘Transversal de Las Americas’ Nearing Completion; Medellin Connections Improve

Colombia’s national infrastructure agency (Agencia Nacional de Infraestructura, ANI) announced April 10, 2019 the completion of a 14-kilometers-long, four-lane divided highway stretch between La Pintada and Puente Iglesias -- part of the 96-kilometers-long “Pacifico 2” upgrades linking Medellin southwestward toward the Pacific.

The latest completions also include a new, two-lane bypass around La Pintada (enabling travelers heading to or from Bolombolo to avoid the knotted city center) and 15 new bridges along the route, according to ANI.

The upgrades also will ease travels from La Pintada to Támesis, Valparaíso, Jericó, Fredonia, Venecia and Puente Iglesias, ANI noted.

Thanks to the latest upgrades, “Pacífico 2 highway has now completed two of five functional units and has achieved a total progress of 65%, which is 9% ahead of schedule,” according to ANI.

The entire “Pacífico 2” project – estimated for completion around mid-2020 -- is budgeted at COP$1.6 trillion (US$ million) including 42.5 kilometers of new roads, 2.5-kilometers of tunnel-ways (including the pioneering Tunel de Mulatos), 54 kilometers of rehabilitated roads and 43 bridges, the agency noted.

Transversal de las Américas (TdA) Update

On a related front, ANI announced April 8 that the 850-kilometers-long Transversal de las Américas (TdA) highway is now 97% complete, boosting freight-traffic efficiency between Antioquia and northern Atlantic ports.

“Among the works that will be ready this year are the new bridge over the Cimitarra River, which has an approximate length of 230 meters, as well as 30 kilometers of new road in the Cantagallo-San Pablo sector (Bolívar) and the completion of a second road in the Montería-El Quince sector (Córdoba),” according to ANI.

“With the transversal, the quality of life of the inhabitants of the regions of Magdalena, Antioquia, Córdoba, Bolívar, Sucre and Cesar improves,” the agency added.

Connecting roads along the transversal will improve travel to Urabá, Apartadó-Carepa and Currulao-Reposo, including a new, 26-kilometers-long road built in the sector of Turbo-Chigorodó due for completion in July, according to ANI.

The entire TdA project includes a new, connecting highway of 38.6 kilometers in length; another 138-kilometers-long stretch of new, two-lane road including two vehicular bridges over 200 meters in length; the 511-meters-long Talaigua Nuevo bridge; the new Cimitarra River bridge still under construction; and rehabilitation of existing roads along the route, according to ANI.

“In addition, it is expected that, along with projects such as the Túnel del Toyo and the Autopistas al Mar 1 (Medellín-Santa Fe de Antioquia-Cañasgordas-Santa Fe de Antioquia-Bolombolo) and Mar 2 (Cañasgordas-El Tigre- Necoclí), the Transversal de las Américas contributes to reducing travel time in the Medellín-Turbo logistics hub from seven to four hours,” according to ANI.


Autopista Rio Magdalena delays April 2019

Thursday, 11 July 2019 17:44 Written by

Aleatica SA subsidiary Autopista Rio Magdalena (ARM) announced April 8, 2019 that it has cancelled its highway construction contract with Obrascon Huarte Lain SA (OHL) and is seeking a new contractor.

The partially completed ARM highway project aims to connect Remedios in northern Antioquia with the “Ruta del Sol” fourth-generation (4g) highway via a new bridge over the Rio Magdalena near Puerto Berrio, Antioquia.

According to ARM, OHL allegedly failed to comply with contract terms including “significant delays” in construction works, despite a COP$150 billion (US$50 million) advanced given to OHL to push forward the project.

Aleatica has notified Colombia’s infrastructure-development oversight agency Agencia Nacional de Infraestructura (ANI) about the contract termination.

Meanwhile, Aleatica is working to find a new contractor in order to restart the project “as soon as possible,” according to the company.

So far, Aleatica has invested more than COP$600 billion (US$300 million) in the project, without tapping any government funds, according to the company.

The ARM project includes 155 kilometers of two-lane highway as well as a 1,360-meters-long bridge over the Rio Magdalena. The highway would boost competitiveness of Antioquia’s industries by improving access to Ruta del Sol and the Caribbean coast.

Aleatica is involved in 14 development projects covering 1,087 kilometers mainly in Latin America as well as Spain, with investments topping COP$17 billion (US$5.8 billion), according to the company, which is owned by 27 Australian pension funds and managed by IFM Investors.


About Medellin Herald

Medellin Herald is a locally produced, English-language news and advisory service uniquely focused upon a more-mature audience of visitors, investors, conference and trade-show attendees, property buyers, expats, retirees, volunteers and nature lovers.

U.S. native Roberto Peckham, who founded Medellin Herald in 2015, has been residing in metro Medellin since 2005 and has traveled regularly and extensively throughout Colombia since 1981.

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