Mar 242010

Update: New Durango-Mazatlán highway officially open (Oct 2013)

Update [October 2012]: Despite earlier claims that the Durango-Mazatlán highway would be completed before the end of 2012, government officials have now confirmed that the highway will not be finished, and will not open, until sometime in 2013.

Update [5 January 2012]:

Original post:

A truly amazing feat of engineering brilliance will force the authors of Geo-Mexico to revise one of their many original maps, when preparing the book’s next edition!

Figure 17.4 of Geo-Mexico is a map using isolines to show the average driving times by road from the city of Durango to everywhere else in Mexico. The map shows that it currently takes about five hours to drive the 312 km from Durango to the Pacific coast resort of Mazatlán, whereas driving south-east for five hours can take you as far as Encarnación de Díaz, 460 km away. The reason for this difference is that the rugged mountains of the Western Sierra Madre separate Durango from Mazatlán, whereas no significant relief obstacles lie between Durango and Encarnación de Díaz.

However, this pattern will change significantly once a new 1.2-billion-dollar highway between Durango and Mazatlán is complete. The four-lane, 230-kilometer-long highway is already well advanced; it will greatly reduce the travel time between the two cities. The major ‘missing piece’ remaining to be finished is the Puente Baluarte Bicentenario (Baluarte Bicentennial Bridge).

Puente Baluarte Bicentenario. Photo: TRADECO

This will be the biggest cable-stayed bridge ever built in Latin America. It is 1.124 km long and 4 lanes wide. Its central span extends 520 meters. At its highest point, it is a gravity-defying 390 metres (1280 feet) above the River Baluarte from which it takes its name. The bridge’s largest supporting pillar is 153 meters high, with a base measuring 18 meters by 30 meters.

Construction, by Mexican firm TRADECO, has required 103,000 tons of cement and almost 17,000 tons of steel. The bridge joins the states of Durango and Sinaloa and removes the need for drivers to negotiate a very dangerous stretch of highway known as the Devil’s Backbone.

Meanwhile, the authors of Geo-Mexico are busy preparing a map to show the next best example in Mexico where extreme differences of terrain influence travel times between major cities! Hopefully, the government won’t immediately use the new map in the next edition of Geo-Mexico to decide where to build their next major highway!

  19 Responses to “New highway in Mexico joins Durango and Mazatlán”

  1. I saw Durango Cuota,sign goin north-many yrs ago y took it.No toll.Not much road.Ended in gravel East of Cordovia exit. OK.I saw much work in successive years. The passage took me 4 1/2 to 5 hours in an old Toyota pickup (another 4 1/2 hrs) to Los Alala going south.It still takes 4 1/2 hrs to Los Ayala w/ the new quota .better road

  2. I’ve driven the devil’s spine several times. Its called dangerous, which
    is an error – unless one is driving too fast. Its best to just make up your
    mind to take it easy, stay alert, and enjoy some of the most breath taking
    views in the world.

    I eagerly anticipate being one of the first to drive the new highway.

    I assume that the justification for this highway is to accomodate truck traffic
    which is now allowed to enter the US. With the deep-water port at Mazatlan, this
    will open up shipping to the US, and allow shippers to cut costs of dockage, etc.

  3. THe new highway has multiple justifications, but certainly the improvement for truck traffic is an important one. The percentage savings in time for trucks once the new highway is complete will be far greater than the percentage savings for cars. If you are one of the first to drive this highway once it’s opened, please report back!

  4. How long is the drive from Durango to Mazatlon on the Devils Spine? I plan on riding my Moto through there next month. Thanks for any info. Im also looking for info on the road to batopilas. Gregory

  5. Durango-Mazatlán is about 5.5 – 6 hours, depending on traffic and weather conditions (fog is quite common in the upper parts). I’m not sure if the on-going construction of the new highway is having any impact on the driving time along the regular highway or not, but I would assume it probably is. The road to Batopilas (I’m assuming you mean from Creel) is amazing and my memory is that it also takes around 5.5 hours, Parts are very steep with hairpin bends, so drive carefully and stop occasionally and enjoy the scenery!

  6. You must be very careful driving the Durango – Mazatlan highway in the winter as there can be heavy snows sometimes which throws you if you are coming from Mazatlan where it is warm and dry. Be careful as there is little road service and if it happens to snow you are out of luck. Generally the snow does not last long and melts. Hopefully, the new autopista will be finished this year to make the drive a real treasure.

  7. Who is Bridge/Structural/Civil Engineer of this MegaBridge?

  8. The director of the project was Ing. Salvador Sánchez Sánchez, but I’ve never seen any reference to the specific designer or designers. Perhaps one of our other readers knows and can tell us?

  9. When will the new highway from Durango to Mazatlan will be open?

  10. The highway is, to the best of our knowledge, due to be opened in September/October. We will update the post when we hear more, TB.

  11. Planning a drive San Antonio TX- Monterey-Toreon-Durango- Mazatlan. How safe is northern Mex? Just returned from D.F. – Morelia. Leon-Zacatecas without problems!

  12. Glad your trip went well, and your proposed route should be fine as well, but we would always advise road travelers to check the latest conditions via the forums on or Facebook group “On the Road in Mexico“. Also, note that the new Durango-Mazatlán road is not yet open, so that section involves the treacherous “Devil’s Backbone” which can be very slow going, depending on traffic and weather conditions.

  13. Thx for the prompt response.

    I really like your website. I travel frequently through out Mexico and I find your site very useful. My fav part of Mexico is Yucatan. I recently saw an REO Speedwagon (not the rock band) in Piste…more popularly known as Chichen-Itza.

  14. Vince, I noticed that you were driving: San Antonio TX- Monterey-Toreon-Durango- Mazatlan How did that work out for you? We will be driving the complete opposite in March. Do you know if the new bridge and highway are open?

  15. The new bridge and highway are not yet open and there is now no expectation that they will open within the next few months. Have a safe and enjoyable trip, Tony

  16. Hello, I visit Mazatlan every year because I love the Old City. Have two questions as we enter April 2013, Is there any more news regarding the completion of the super carretera and once it is finished, do you think real estate values in Old Mazatlan will be favorably affected? Thanks so much. Suzanne

  17. Suzanne, Thanks for your comment. There is no news about the super highway from Durango-Mazatlan and no expectation that it will be completed until much later this year at the earliest. I doubt if its completion will have any discernible impact on property prices in the Old City, but then my real estate knowledge is close to zero, so I may not be the best person to ask! Best, TB

  18. I’m planning a fishing trip out of Mazatlan for the last week in Oct. 2013. I’m planning on driving from Austin, TX. So my question like everyone else, will the new Hwy. between Durango and Mazatlan be open by late Oct.
    Is there a official site where a person can obtain the latest accurate info on this new roadway?

  19. There is no single site for the latest info. The most recent Mexican press reports are that everything is being done to have the highway open within the next 4-6 weeks, but much depends on the severity of the rainy season, so there may still be further delays. Rest assured, as soon as we know anything definite, we will post again on this topic. Enjoy your trip!

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