Friday, October 22, 2021

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Infrastructure 48

Colombia President Ivan Duque announced October 11 during a visit to Washington, DC, that the proposed “Puerto Antioquia” ocean freight port near Turbo, Antioquia just won another US$200 million in financing from the Interamerican Development Bank’s “IDB Invest” group.

The project – now estimated to start-up in the second half of 2024 -- has a total estimated cost of US$672 million, of which IDB Invest is putting-up a US$150 million in equity plus “mobilization of US$50 million of funds under administration of IDB Invest, which offers a long-term financing of 17 years not otherwise available in the [private equity] market, and necessary to ensure the financial sustainability of the project,” according to IDB.

The project earlier won a US$110 million term loan from New York-based Global Infrastructure Partners (see Medellin Herald July 9, 2020).

The new IDB Invest financing will support “construction, operation and maintenance of Puerto Antioquia, a new multipurpose port facility located in the Gulf of Urabá,” the agency noted.

The project developers already have obtained a 30-year concession contract with Colombia’s National Infrastructure Agency (ANI).

“Thanks to its geostrategic location and the construction of '4G' [soon-to-open fourth-generation] highways, it will be the port terminal closest to the main production and consumption centers of the country, becoming a key infrastructure for strengthening Colombian foreign trade,” IDB noted.

The project also has lined-up “mezzanine financing from Global Infrastructure Partners and loans of US$193 million from Colombian local banks,” IDB added. Puerto Antioquia also has an environmental license and enjoys Special Permanent Free Zone status.

Among Puerto Colombia’s project sponsors: international shipping company CMA CGM, the Colombian port development company Puertos, Inversiones y Obras (PIO SAS), the European construction company Eiffage and Colombian banana-exporting companies Agrícola Santamaría, Banafrut, C.I. Unibán and C.I. Tropical.

The project features a 16.5-meters-deep ocean draft to a marine platform including 1,340 linear meters of dockage, all connected to a 3.8-kilometers-long viaduct to a 38-hectares shoreside parcel, which will include “logistical and technological facilities necessary for the storage of general cargo, bulk, vehicles and refrigerated and dry containers,” according to the funding agency.

“IDB Invest has promoted the alignment of Puerto Antioquia with the highest international standards in socio-environmental matters, which also means that the project responds to the need to implement sustainable, safer and more efficient transport infrastructures, which contribute to improving global indicators, such as the Sustainable Development Goals,” according to the agency.

Puerto Bahía Colombia de Urabá S.A. is the formal entity holding the concession contract with ANI for the ocean-freight terminal project.

The port initially will move an estimated volume of 7 million tons of cargo per year. “Due to its strategic location in the southeast of Urabá, the Colombian Caribbean coast, it will reduce the distance between the port and the main centers of production and consumption of the region by more than 350 kilometers,” according to the agency.


Colombia’s infrastructure agency (Agencia Nacional de Infraestructura, ANI) announced today (June 30) that the “Magdalena 2” project linking Medellin northward to the “Ruta del Sol” highways just won a COP$2.8 trillion (US$740 million) loan deal organized by Colombian coordinator Financiero de Desarollo Nacional (FDN).

The loan deal for ANI’s “Magdalena 2” concession “guarantees continuation of the execution of highway construction works that connect the Antioqueño municipality of Remedios with the Puerto Berrío bypass connector and then onward to the ‘Ruta del Sol’ highways at Cimitarra, Santander,” which will speed freight traffic to-and-from Cartagena and northern ports on the Caribbean.

FDN’s organization of the loan package involves U.S.-based Goldman Sachs, Spain’s Banco Santander, Bancolombia, Japan’s Sumitomo Mitsui, the Bank Credit Institute of Spain (ICO), France’s Credit Agricole Corporate and Investment Banking, Banco de Credito del Peru (BCP), Germany’s Siemens Financial Services and CAF-AM Ashmore.

“The financing is made up of three tranches that include a local loan in Colombian pesos, a loan in U.S. dollars and a bond issue governed under U.S. regulation. The sum of these three tranches guarantees all the resources for this financial closing,” according to ANI.

This “fourth generation” (4G) project includes 144 kilometers of new highway and a nearly complete, 1.36-kilometers-long bridge over the Magdalena River.

“It is expected that ‘functional unit four’ of the project -- linking the Puerto Berrío bypass with Cimitarra thus connecting the departments of Antioquia and Santander -- will come into operation in the second half of 2021, while by 2023 the construction phase will be completed for the entire corridor,” according to ANI.


Medellin-based highway construction consortium Covipacifico announced June 15 that it just won confirmation of a US$150 million financing package for its “Pacifico 1” highway project.

The financing will guarantee completion of the COP$2.6 trillion (US$704 million), 50-kilometers-long “Pacifico 1” project between the southern Medellin suburb of Caldas and a new bridge-and-tunnel connection to the nearly complete “Pacifico 2” highway above the Cauca river town of Bolombolo.

When Pacifico 1 and Pacifico 2 eventually connect to the under-construction “Pacifico 3” project in 2023, then -- at long last -- Medellin finally will have its first direct, high-speed connection all the way to the main Pacific port at Buenaventura, greatly reducing freight transport times and costs.

“Pacifico 1” is now more than 70% complete and full opening is expected by August 2023, according to Covipacifico.

According to a separate, related June 15 bulletin from Colombia’s Agencia Nacional de Infraestructura (ANI), “this new milestone in financing was supported by the international banks Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (Japan) and Santander S.A. (Spain).”

“These resources show the confidence of international banks in Colombia,” added Colombia Transport Minister Angela María Orozco. “Pacifico 1 will allow the [Medellin and southwest Antioquia] region to be better connected with the main economic centers inside and outside of Antioquia,” she added.

This month, the first 5.2 kilometers of new, four-lane divided highway opened near Bolombolo on Pacifico 1, including the new, 1.4-kilometers-long “ Sinifaná” twin tunnels.

Pacifico 1 in total includes construction of 63 bridges, three below-ground interchanges at Sinifaná, Titiribí and Camilo Cé, 32 kilometers of new, four-lane divided highway and two twin tunnels at Sinifaná (now complete) and at Amagá, the latter just-now completely excavated.


Colombia’s national highway agency Invias announced April 17 that it has restored 24 hours/day operations on the Medellin-Bogota highway at the site of an April 9 landslide near San Luis, Antioquia.

The new scheme employs alternating one-way traffic around the landslide site between kilometer 31 and kilometer 61 on the Medellín-Bogotá highway.

“Thanks to the work that our engineers and operators have been doing for seven continuous days, today we enable controlled passage via one-lane, 24 hours a day, for all types of vehicles through this important corridor,” said Invias operations director Juan Esteban Romero Toro.

Continuing updates on restoration progress are available via the Invias toll-free hotline (#767) as well as on Twitter (@inviasoficial) and Facebook (Inviasoficial) or on the website www.invias.gov.co, the agency added.


Colombia’s highway agency Invias announced March 30 that it awarded two contracts for road and bridge works that will join with the under-construction “Toyo” tunnel connecting Medellin westward to new and existing Atlantic ports via the “Mar 1” and “Mar 2” highways.

Under the deal, Medellin-based highway construction giant Construcciones El Condor won a COP$418 billion (US$119 million) contract for road-and-bridge work west of Santa Fe de Antioquia, while “Consortium Vías Colombia 061” won a related COP$389.9 billion (US$104 million) contract for road work connecting to the “Toyo” tunnel opening near Cañasgordas, Antioquia, according to Invias.

Total works include 11 tunnels, 13 bridges, four “false tunnels” and 12.5 kilometers of new roads on a project that stretches 19.4 kilometers in length.

Invias director Juan Esteban Gil Chavarría added that construction will begin between May and June 2021.

In total, 13 engineering contractors had bid on the project, according to Invias.

Eventually, this project also will include installation of electromechanical equipment inside the 9.7-kilometers-long “Toyo” tunnel (also known as “Tunel Guillermo Gaviria Echeverri,” honoring the father of a former Antioquia governor who was kidnapped and murdered by the narco-communist FARC army). The new tunnel -- longest in all South America --  will tie-together the under-construction “Mar 1” and “Mar 2” highways, drastically cutting freight-traffic-times between Medellin and the Atlantic ocean.

Including highway, bridge and tunnel work for the new connection to the main “Toyo” tunnel, Invias funding will total COP$1.4 trillion (US$375 million), according to the agency.


Agencia Nacional de Infraestructura (ANI, Colombia’s infrastructure agency) revealed today (March 19) that the new Pacifico 1, 2 and 3 highways linking Medellin southwestward toward the Pacific port of Buenaventura will open for traffic in 2022 -- ahead of schedule.

“Next year, the three Pacific highways will be in the service of a whole country,” ANI President Manuel Felipe Gutierrez revealed today via his Twitter account.

“With 62% progress in the Pacifico 1 project, followed by 99% in Pacifico 2 and 83% in Pacifico 3, we continue to serve Colombians” with crucial highway projects that will boost Medellin’s competitiveness by dramatically slashing freight-traffic times and costs.

The Pacifico 1 highway between Medellin’s southern suburbs and the Cauca River town of Bolombolo is making eye-popping strides along a steep mountainside route, from only 8% completion in August 2018 to 62.4% today, according to ANI.

This project includes twin highway tunnels at Amagá (3.6-kilometers-long, now 78% complete) and Sinifaná (1.4-kilometers-long, nearly complete), the latter just on the outskirts of Bolombolo.

Pacifico 1 also includes the construction of 59 new bridges along the entire route as well as three new interchanges at Sinifaná, Titiribí and Camilo C. The new route connects Pacifico 1 to Pacifico 2 via new Cauca River bridges (see photo, above), which in turn are directly tied to the new, twin “Mulatos” tunnels, each 2.5-kilometers in length.

“Pacifico 2 is already at 99.13% completion and it will be one of the first '4G' [fourth-generation highway] projects to finish its construction phase to enter 100% into operation” this year, according to ANI.

Pacifico 2 also includes 40 other bridges, 37 kilometers of new four-lane, divided highway, three kilometers of two-lane highway and rehabilitation of 54 kilometers of existing highway, according to ANI.

Meanwhile, Pacífico 3 – now at 86.82% completion –"connects 18 municipalities in the departments of Antioquia, Caldas and Risaralda through 146 kilometers of highway that include the construction of two tunnels: the Irra tunnel, which has already been put into operation, and the Tesalia tunnel,” according to ANI.

The Tesalia tunnel is 92% complete and will open before year-end 2021, according to ANI.

Meanwhile, the Pacifico 3 sections between La Manuela-Tres Puertas-Irra are now 97.7% complete, including 31 kilometers of highway upgrades and construction of additional lanes.

Toyo Tunnel Ahead of Schedule

Meanwhile, the Antioquia departmental government announced March 18 that the 9.73-kilometers-long “Toyo” tunnel (aka "Tunel Guillermo Gaviria Echeverri") is now at 50% excavation -- more than three months ahead of schedule.

The Toyo tunnel will link the new “Mar 1” and “Mar 2” highways westward from Medellin to new and existing Atlantic freight ports, greatly reducing freight shipping times and costs.

At 4,934 meters already excavated (in each of two parallel tunnels), drillers are advancing at nearly 10 linear meters per day, according to the government. The Toyo project also includes several connecting viaducts, shorter tunnels and open-to-sky sections.

Thanks to steady and relatively rapid progress, “it is expected that the tunnel will be completely drilled in 2022 and the project will be ready in 2023,” according to the Antioquia government.

Meanwhile, the connecting “section 2” of the “Mar 1” highway project westward from Santa Fé de Antioquia to Cañasgordas just got its first of two promised funding disbursements (totaling COP$1.4 trillion/US$394 million) from Colombian highway agency Invias, the government revealed March 18.

‘Vias del Nus’ Progress Accelerates

On yet another front, ANI announced March 19 that the new “Vias del Nus” four-lane divided highway connecting Medellin northward to existing and new highways and northern Atlantic ports -- and including a new bridge over the Magdalena River -- is now at 84% completion.

This project, which had only made 1.8% progress by 2018, is now accelerating rapidly – including the crucial “La Quiebra” twin tunnels (85% complete), which will remove an historic bottleneck between Medellin and highway connections to Cartagena, Barranquilla and Santa Marta.


Medellin Expands Electric Bus Recharging Network

Thursday, 11 February 2021 12:09 Written by

Medellin’s continually expanding zero-emissions public transport network got another boost February 10 with the start-up of new charging stations for its 60 pure-electric “Metroplus” buses.

The new stations, in the Patio Fátima neighborhood, enable bus recharging 24 hours a day, seven days a week, according to a bulletin from the Medellin Mayor’s Office.

The new station boosts charging capacity for buses serving lines 1, 2 and O of the “Metro” public transit system. This system also includes all-electric “Metro” rail, “Metrocable” aerial trams, surface trams, electric buses and a growing network of “EnCicla” bicycles and bike pathways. Furthermore, by 2026, Medellin will add the "Avenida 80" all-electric light-rail tramway serving many of the city's western neighborhoods.

The new recharging facility at Patio Fátima adds six new bus chargers in addition to seven existing chargers at the Terminal del Sur station and the Universidad de Medellín station, hence making the “Metroplus” operation “more efficient in terms of schedules, flows and recharging capacity,” according to the Mayor’s Office.

“The new chargers, which have 210 kilowatts of power each, allow up to 12 vehicles to be connected simultaneously, giving 300 kilometers of autonomy” per recharge.

Meanwhile, Medellin continues to develop a related “Transport Logistics Center” adjacent to the downtown Olaya Herrera Airport. This project will allow Metro to “expand by 20,000 square meters the recharging, parking and maintenance spaces” for the city’s all-electric vehicle operations.


The long-awaited “doble calzada oriente” (DCO) four-lane divided highway between Medellin's "Las Palmas" eastern highway and the Jose Maria Cordova (JMC) international airport just won a final approval from the Antioquia departmental government.

As a result, construction on the COP$926 billion (US$265 million), 13.7-kilometers-long project will start this year, project leader Constructora Conconcreto announced last night (January 19).

Construction time is estimated at 36 months, meaning the highway would open for traffic by 2023 or 2024.

The entire project will be privately funded, rather than tapping any government funds. Toll booths will enable developers to recoup the investment over the coming decades.

The highway will spur further development in the booming “Oriente” (east of Medellin) region including Rionegro and portions of Envigado.

The new DCO highway will connect with the existing Las Palmas four-lane divided highway eastward from Medellin near the “Sancho Paisa” roundabout, passing through the outlying El Tablazo neighborhood of Rionegro and connecting onward with the existing highway bordering JMC airport into central Rionegro.

Partners in the project include Constructora Conconcreto, Castro Tcherassi and Procopal.

On the new highway, “estimated travel time between the Sancho Paisa roundabout and the José María Córdova Airport in Rionegro will be 12 minutes, with an average speed of 80 kilometers per hour,” according to Conconcreto.


Colombia’s highway infrastructure agency Invias announced December 17 that it is gradually reopening two-way traffic on the Medellin-Bogota highway at kilometer 46, blocked by a recent landslide. 

“So far, 3,500 cubic meters of material have been removed and progress is being made in the controlled unloading of 40,000 cubic meters of loose material for safe removal,” according to Invias.

To remove the landslide and enable a temporary traffic bypass, Invias is using 14 earth-moving machines and also buiding a temporary dike to halt further landslides in the area, according to the agency.

Invias Director Juan Esteban Romero Toro added that "if weather and security conditions allow, we will keep mobility enabled in the corridor through a variant” built 15 meters distant from the adjacent landslide area.

The new variant “will allow the passage to be maintained in a bidirectional manner 24 hours a day, guaranteeing the safety of users,” according to Invias.

Highway users can dial the “#767” information number for updated information on the state of highway reconstruction work, according to the agency.


Colombia President Ivan Duque, Medellin Mayor Daniel Quintero and Antioquia Governor Aníbal Gaviria on November 30 joined in Bogota at an official signing ceremony guaranteeing finance for Medellin’s newest mass-transit project: the COP$3.54 trillion (US$991 million) Avenida 80 light-rail system.

Under the deal, the Colombian government will contribute COP$2.4 trillion (US$672 million) or 70% of the capital cost, while the city of Medellin will contribute the remaining 30% (COP$1.14 trillion/US$319 million).

Once completed by 2026, the new addition to Medellin’s world-class, zero-emissions mass-transit system – already serving more than 1 million passengers daily -- will extend 13.25-kilometers in length along the crowded Avenida 80 corridor, serving 17 stations in western neighborhoods that house nearly one-third of Medellin’s residents.

The light-rail system will connect with Medellin’s existing “Metro” elevated rail network, a growing network of electric aerial tram lines, the “Metroplus” bus rapid transit lines, “EnCicla” free bicycles, and dedicated bicycle paths throughout the city, all offering clean and relatively efficient alternatives to polluting car and motorcycle transport.

At the Bogota ceremony marking the official launch of the Avenida 80 project, President Duque recalled his childhood in Medellin, “starting with the Boston neighborhood, the neighborhood where my family lived for decades,” he said.

“Today, when I see that this dream [of an Avenida 80 tramway] becomes possible, I also see that this is in harmony with a vision of a country that is not in ideological conflicts. These [public infrastructure] projects are neither of the right wing nor of the left, they are of common sense, of well-being, of the entire community.

“[Likewise], the development of the Software Valley [in Medellin], that is not left or right wing, it is common sense to appropriate technology to transform the community. The entrepreneurial projects and ‘green’ projects that we have been developing are neither from the left nor from the right, they are common sense so that we have a vision of clean growth,” he added.


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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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