Colombian construction firm Conconcreto announced yesterday that they have received final approval to begin construction of an 8.5 mile (13.2km) four lane toll highway designed to relieve construction between Medellín and its Eastern suburbs including the José Maria Córdova international airport, Llanogrande and Medellín.
Though a tunnel recently opened cutting transit times by over 30 minutes between Medellín and the airport, the booming growth and development in Rionegro and other Eastern suburbs mean that congestion is still a problem. There are currently two alternatives for airport traffic, both only two lanes: the “Tunel del Oriente” or “Tunnel of the East” and the traditional route from the Las Palmas suburban area to the airport. Travelers to Rionegro may also take the route 56 “La Ceja” alternative to bypass airport traffic, but it also is only a two-lane toll road.
The new 4 lane toll road will benefit the communities of El Santuario, La Unión, Carmen de Viborál, La Ceja, El Retiro, Rionegro, Envigado & Las Palmas
This new route will head from the “Sancho Paisa Roundabout” named after a popular restaurant located at the junction where the Las Palmas Avenue leading out of Medellín already meets with the airport toll road and the highway to La Ceja, Antioquia; and head to an unincorporated area called El Tablazo, halfway between the entrance to Medellín’s international airport and the suburb of Llanogrande. The road also provides easier access to the regional San Vicente hospital and benefits many metro residents who live too far up Medellín’s Aburrá Valley to benefit directly from the new tunnel route.
The road also benefits truck and motorcycle traffic, as only cars are permitted in the tunnel. Countless accidents and fatalities have been caused by risky passing attempts on the two-lane highways, and accidents often shut down traffic in both directions leading to many missed flights and other complications. The new highway, which should take 36 months to construct, should alleviate all those challenges.
The concession is a public-private partnership (PPP) meaning that the builders will be able to privately operate the route and charge tolls, without the need for public government financing or tax dollars spent on the project. Conconcreto has a 60% stake in the project, Castro Tcherassi has 30% and Procopal SA has 10%. The route runs through the municipalities of Envigado with jurisdiction over the Sancho Paisa roundabout, El Retiro, and Rionegro where the El Tablazo intersection is. Llanogrande and El Tablazo fall under the municipality of Rionegro.
“The teams are already working on the technical studies, final designs and the property, environmental, social and network obligations,” said Juan Luís Aristizábal, president of Conconcreto. “Once the project is approved by the auditors and the financing closes, we will proceed with the start of work, hopefully we can start before the end of the year.”