Antioquia’s ‘Mar 2’ Highway to Atlantic Ports Wins Financing; ‘Sinifana’ Tunnel Makes Progress
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.