Cars coming from Oaxaca had to wait up to an hour in Colotepec while construction was going on.
Cars coming from Oaxaca had to wait up to an hour in Colotepec while construction was going on.

Highway to Oaxaca 5/23

Photos: Ernesto J. Torres

The 104 km toll road will connect highway 200 at Ventanilla, Colotepec to highway 175 at Barranca Larga, Ejutla, cutting the travel time from Puerto Escondido to Oaxaca to under three hours. Construction began in 2007, but there were years in which no work was done at all, as the first contractor went bankrupt with the international financial crisis, and the second also faced insolvency for reasons unrelated to the highway. Now the project is in the hands of Banobras, the federal infrastructure development bank, which has contracted out the construction to various builders. Throughout the years the project has suffered many delays because of conflicts between the communities along the route.

THE GEOLOGY OF THE SOUTHERN Sierra is very challenging with its variety of rock formations, but still we were very surprised to discover in May that no real progress seems to have been made since our last trip in January (¡Viva Puerto! 36). This was really sad since so much work had been done between September and January.

No, there were no community disputes affecting construction during this time. We only went as far as the San Vicente detour because we were told pipes were being laid further down the road. But we did meet with people on our return trip who had come from Oaxaca in around three hours. We met them when there was a one hour stop in Colotepec between the Santa Martha tunnel and the Colotepec River bridge while construction was going on.

Around half the highway is paved, or being repaved, between Colotepec and San Vicente. No new work seems to have been done on the San Sebastián tunnel, and the 1 km detour around it is a little hairy. The San Vicente detour is worse as it is quite steep.

At this rate, we are making no predictions as to when the highway will be finished. Maybe in another year? Certainly not in July as president López Obrador announced earlier this year.

Even so, the highway is open to the adventurous on Sundays (no one will stop you from using it), and it cuts the travel time from Oaxaca to Puerto in half.

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