For the fourth time now, Mérida’s city hall has announced delays in the reopening of Paseo de Montejo’s paso deprimido underpass.
City officials and the project’s contractors from Sacbé Construcciones are non-committal about when the project would be complete but said that they are on the final stretch.
“I would not want to give an exact date, but we are now approaching the home stretch of construction, said Mérida Mayor Renán Barrera Concha.
Initial estimates for repairs to the paso deprimido were just north of 9.5 million pesos, however, the project’s budget this summer called for 30 million — over three times as much.
But the project may now end up costing up even more, as the city is now refusing to disclose the amount of yet another budget increase, opting instead to publish the final numbers when the project is complete.
The closure of the underpass has created a major traffic bottleneck for commuters traveling to and from Mérida’s Centro for well over a year.
When the underpass first flooded, the city had estimated repairs would only take a few weeks. But when the gravity of the damage became apparent the city decided that the bottom of the underpass would have to be elevated by a meter and insulated with a special material.
Since then, three other delays have been announced. After failing to meet the most recent deadline in July, the city assured drivers that work would be completed by Hanal Pixán in late October.
The paso deprimido has been a hot topic ever since it was first built in 2011 during the tenure of Mayor Angélica Araujo.
Tired of delays, and fearing future flooding, critics believe the underpass should be paved over and replaced with traffic lights or an overpass.
Before its closure, the tunnel — which runs underneath one of the city’s busiest intersections — accommodated approximately 47,000 vehicles a day.