Work is set to begin on Mérida’s flood-prone underpass, known locally as el paso deprimido.
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.
The estimated cost of repairs is reported to be between 25 and 30 million pesos.
The contract was awarded to a local company, Sacbé Constructores. Work is set to begin in the next 30 days.
But some in the city, such as members of the Colectivo 4 de Julio, claim that it is time to shut down the underpass for good.
“Time will prove us right once again. This project was ill-conceived from the very beginning and is sure to cause problems again,” said architect David Sosa Solís.
“We would like to start construction as soon as possible. If everything goes well we may start as soon as April 30,” said public works director, David Loría Magdub.
The landmark was closed to traffic when it flooded in June 2020. After lengthy repairs, the cenote beneath it rose again in October following a summer of record-breaking rain. It’s created a bottleneck ever since.
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 centered on the shallow surface level depth of the city’s water table.
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.