‘Pacifico 1’ Highway Construction Suffers Landslide Near Bolombolo; Reopening Not Until 2020
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.