Mérida’s city hall has announced that the Paso Deprimido underpass — literally the “depressed step” — will reopen in mid-July.
The underpass was flooded in June 2020 after a particularly severe tropical storm season and has remained closed ever since.
To avoid flooding in the future, the city has decided to elevate the underpass by one meter and apply a special layer of weatherproof coating.
Despite the heavy rains the city has experienced during the last week, interim Mayor Alejandro Ruz Castro says that construction is proceeding on schedule.
“The water table is still high but has dropped considerably since last year. This has allowed crews to continue working on this important infrastructure project,” said Ruz Castro.
But skepticism remains regarding the viability of the underpass.
“This whole thing does not make any sense and it never did. I am no civil engineer but mark my words, this thing is going to flood again,” a Mérida resident, Emmanuel Robles, commented on Facebook.
The paso deprimido has been a hot topic ever since it was first 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.
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.