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Infrastructure 51

Airplan – the operator of Medellin’s José María Córdova (JMC) international airport in Rionegro – confirms that runway repaving will require a partial halt to flights at JMC on Saturday and Sunday February 19-20, then again on Saturday and Sunday February 26-27.

The two weekend closures – each lasting 36 hours -- start 2-am on each of those two Saturdays and then continue until 2-pm on each of those two Sundays. Airlines are notifying passengers of resulting flight changes.

“The maintenance work will be carried out at two specific points of the runway track that require the intervention of the pavement: milling, removal and disposal of the material to install asphalt layers,” according to Airplan.

“The closing dates were previously arranged with the different airlines that operate at JMC, thus enabling timely notification to passengers and, consequently, the reorganization of flights.”

Second-Runway Talks Underway

Meanwhile, Colombia’s Transport Minister Ángela María Orozco announced January 13 that a multi-government work group is pushing ahead with negotiations that would involve an estimated US$2.78 trillion (US$699 million) expansion of JMC -- including construction of a second landing/take-off runway.

“The investments would be focused on the acquisition of land, a new runway with a length of 3.5 kilometers, a new terminal, taxiways, a connectivity system between terminals, a new control tower, a new perimeter road, an electrical substation and a commercial platform,” according to the Transport Ministry announcement.

The multi-party talks include JMC airport concessionaire Airplan, the departmental government of Antioquia, the Mayor's Office of Medellín, the Mayor's Office of Rionegro, business-promotion group ProAntioquia, the Medellín Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber of Commerce of Oriente and Ferrocarril de Antioquia, according to the Ministry.

“What we want is that all the actors and sectors of the region that are involved in these decisions have the same technical information, to be able to debate what is convenient and what is not, in a framework of transparency and equality,” explained Minister Orozco.

JMC is now handling more than 1.1 million passengers each month -- even despite travel declines caused by the Covid-19 health crisis, according to the Civil Aeronautics authority.

While officials had previously envisioned a second-runway expansion by around 2033, passenger and air-freight traffic at JMC is growing so much that accelerated expansion now would seem more convenient if completed by 2030 or even 2028, according to Civil Aeronautics.


Colombia Vice President Marta Lucía Ramírez announced January 5 the addition of US$397 million in financing deals supporting the US$627 million “Puerto Antioquia” ocean freight project near Turbo, Antioquia.

Part of the new funds will come via the privately held Financiera de Desarrollo Nacional (FDN) group, which just confirmed a US$103.7 million loan package involving JP Morgan including a loan guarantee from the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA).

Another part of the new funding comes from the Inter-American Development Bank Group with US$200 million, plus US$30 million from Colombia’s Bancoldex import-export promotion agency and US$60 million from the Davivienda bank group here, according to FDN.

The JP Morgan loan carries a 16-years payback term with a four-year grace period, according to FDN. “The loan will be amortized in 47 quarterly installments from the expiration of the grace period,” according to FDN, whose shareholders include Grupo Bicentenario, IFC, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation and CAF.

According to FDN, “the port is expected to start operating in 2025 and reduce logistics costs by improving competitiveness and allowing the development of small and medium-sized producers, which have been restricted, in part, by limited access to ports, and competition by the quotas offered in the boats that transport agricultural products.”

The new port also will “promote the creation of 11,600 new companies and US$24.4 million per year in tax payments,” according to FDN.

The total estimated capital cost of US$672.4 million includes debt finance (59.6% of the total, or US$393.7 million), with the remaining 40.4% (equivalent to US$280 million) in capital finance to be provided by the project partners.

“When compared with the other alternative ports in the Caribbean for cargo transportation, Puerto Antioquia represents a cost savings of 44% and 41% in distance for Medellín, 37% in costs and 33% in distance from the coffee region, ands 17% in costs and 25% in distance from Bogotá,” according to FDN.

The port will enjoy new highway connections via the under-construction Mar 1, Mar 2 and Toyo Tunnel highway projects in Antioquia, due for completion over the next two-to-four years.

The annual capacity of Puerto Antioquia will enable shipping of 600,000 twenty-foot-container-equivalent units in dry and refrigerated containers, 3 million tons of bulk cargo and 1.15 million tons of general cargo, according to FDN.

The private-sector capital sponsors of the project include global shipping giant CMA Terminals (22% share); Pio S.A.S. (11.1%); Eiffage Infrastructures S.A.S (22%); Termotécnica Coindustrial (5.17%); banana exporter Uniban (15.51%); Agrícola Santamaría (5.69%); Banafrut (4.14%); CI Tropical (6.21%); and Unión Para la Infraestructura (8.21%), the latter of which is backed by Credicorp Capital Asset Management and Sura Asset Management, according to FDN.


Colombia President Ivan Duque on December 4 officially inaugurated the long-awaited “Vias del Nus” highway connecting Medellin northward to Atlantic freight ports.

The new, 157.4-kilometers-long highway includes a four-lane, twin-tube tunnel that breaks through the historically problematic “La Quiebra” mountain, which until now has snagged road transport to and from Medellin and Colombia’s main northern ports.

Connecting to the “Magdalena 2” project at Alto de Dolores (Antioquia) and a brand-new bridge over the Magdalena River, the new, COP$1.2 trillion (US$302 million) “Vias del Nus” corridor slashes about two hours from travel times and avoids a twisting, complicated climb over “La Quiebra” at Cisneros, Antioquia.

The project “directly benefits about 3.3 million inhabitants of Medellín, Bello, Copacabana, Girardota, Barbosa, Donmatías, Santo Domingo, Santa Rosa de Osos, Cisneros, San Roque and Maceo,” while simultaneously improving crucial freight transport, as noted by Colombia’s Transport Ministry.

The project is so monumental that Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary-General Luis Almagro accompanied President Duque at the December 4 dedication ceremony.

“Today Colombia shows that large projects may take 100 years to ponder, but in this government we execute them on time, and we are going to give Antioquia the largest investment in fourth-generation highways, the largest investment in tertiary roads and the largest number of new kilometers” of new and upgraded highways, bridges and tunnels, President Duque bragged.

Agencia Nacional de Infraestructura (ANI) president Manuel Felipe Gutiérrez added that the Vias del Nus project also features 17 new pairs of bridges, notably including the curved, 220-meters-long “El Cariaño” bridge built in successive cantilevers -- an especially challenging engineering feat.


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.


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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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