It currently takes about 5 hours to drive from the city of Durango to the Pacific coast resort of Mazatlán, but this time will be slashed to under 3 hours once the new 1.2-billion-dollar, 4-lane, 230-kilometer highway between the cities is complete. The Baluarte Bridge is already in place and was officially opened in January 2012, but the highway is still incomplete and not yet open. The highway is due to be completed by later this year, rainy season permitting.
This post features two videos about the Bridge. The first 4-minute video (below) is in English and is a promotional short for VSL International, one of the construction firms building the bridge. It includes footage of the amazing building techniques that were required.
The main span of the Baluarte Bridge is 520 meters in length and is 402 meters above the river (rather than the 390 m in the picture below), making it not only the tallest cable-stayed bridge in the world, but the cable-stayed bridge with the longest span in the Americas.
The second video (below), first aired on National Geographic channels in Latin America, is 43 minutes long and entirely in Spanish (no subtitles). Its English-language equivalent, entitled Megastructures: World’s Highest Suspension Bridge, has been shown in the USA and Canada, but is not currently viewable online.
There is a minor geographic error in the first minute of this video when it shows a graphic placing the Baluarte Bridge at the junction of two distinct highways (Durango-Mazatlán and Tampico-Durango). The producers have taken some “geographic license” here since the two highways actually meet in the vicinity of the city of Durango, a considerable distance east of the Baluarte Bridge, which is more properly located on the boundary between the states of Durango and Sinaloa, mid-way between Durango and Mazatlán.
While this Spanish language version is quite long winded in places, it includes some spectacular photos and graphics, including the celebration held when the two crews working from opposite sides of the ravine finally met each other in the middle!
In order to ensure safety, the Baluarte Bridge is kitted with an array of sensors which send real time information to engineers in Mexico City who can monitor every aspect of the bridge and its response to every change in wind direction, strength, traffic, etc.
The construction project is not without its critics. While tourism officials expect a massive increase in the number of visitors to Mazatlán, and a doubling of the number of hotel rooms in that resort in the next 10-15 years, the local residents of several villages and ejidos along the route of the new highway claim they have not yet been fully paid for allowing construction crews access to their property or compensated for the damage caused to their pine forests, farmland and water supplies. The new highway may also “change the criminal dynamic” in this mountainous area, the more remote parts of which have a long and troubled history of violence and drugs trafficking.
We’ll post again about this astonishing engineering achievement when the new highway is completed and open to regular traffic, hopefully later this year! Meanwhile, it’s back to drawing an updated version of Figure 17.4 of Geo-Mexico, the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico (currently on special offer at Amazon.com), a map showing the average driving times by road from the city of Durango to everywhere else in Mexico.
- The Durango-Mazatlán highway in Mexico should open in 2013 (Oct 2012)
- Mexico’s Puente Baluarte, the world’s tallest cable-stayed bridge, now officially open (Jan 2012)
- The likely economic impact of the new Mazatlán to Durango highway in Mexico (Sep 2010)
- New highway in Mexico joins Durango and Mazatlán (Mar 2010)