New and improved underpass to make a comeback, says Mérida’s mayor

Render of what the considerably less deep paso deprimido will look like. Photo: File
Rendering of what the considerably less deep paso deprimido will look like. Photo: File

Mérida Mayor Renán Barrera Concha announced that the Paseo de Montejo underpass will reopen in June.

The plan devised to save this critical piece of infrastructure consists of elevating the height of the road running under the underpass by 1.5 meters / nearly 5 feet.

Known locally as el paso deprimido — literally the depressed step — the underpass was flooded in June 2020 after a particularly severe tropical storm season. It happened again in October.

Efforts to drain the water from the underpass failed as the water table below had risen considerably.

The underpass will also be undergoing considerable maintenance and reconstruction given the severity of the water damage.

The underpass was filled with brackish water last December. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Barrera Concha informed the press that the plan to rescue the underpass was developed by Yucatán’s college of engineers. Previously, the possibility of completely filling in the underpass had also been floated, as some experts considered that the damage done to the physical integrity of the underpass was too severe for it to be salvaged. 

Earlier: Mérida considers the future of its controversial underwater underpass

For a decade now, the paso deprimido has been a politically charged issue in Mérida. 

The underpass was built in 2011 during the tenure of Mayor Angélica Araujo. Construction cost the city 64.4 million pesos and tens of millions in associated maintenance costs. Since the inception of the project, concerns abounded given the shallow surface level depth of the city’s water table.

“The rehabilitation of the paso deprimido will be conducted according to the recommendations of civil engineering experts, not partisan politics,” said Barrera Concha. 

Before its closure, the tunnel — which runs underneath one of the city’s busiest intersections — accommodated approximately 47,000 vehicles a day. Its closure made traffic significantly worse.

Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway.