First publishedin World Highways
The highway upgrade work includes building civils structures
Construction is underway for Argentina’s new Mendoza-San Juan Highway – Mauro Nogarin reports
The rehabilitation and maintenance works of more than 3,300km of routes is now underway in Argentina. This followed on after the takeover of six new road corridors under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model, which took place in August 2018.
The rehabilitation and maintenance works are being carried out prior to the start of the main projects, which will include the construction of highways. Building these safer routes is expected to cost more than US$6 billion, with the work being carried out over the next four years.
One of the key priorities of this new national plan is to strengthen and modernise the country's main road network. The Mendoza-San Juan highway is one of the most important projects of recent times and the main objective of the project is the upgrade of the route to highway status. The improvement will also boost safety along the 149km stretch of the route forming part of National Route 40.
This new highway connection between San Juan and Mendoza will provide an important economic boost, strengthening commercial activity in the Cuyo area. This will help the growth of South America’s main wine-producing area, as well as developing the local agriculture, livestock, mining and tourism sectors.
Improving connectivity between Mendoza and San Juan will help to improve traffic flow, by generating alternative routes for vehicles that are currently forced to drive through several town centres (such as Media Agua) located along the current National Route 40.
In the future the upgrade to the highway will be of further benefit once the planned Agua Negra Tunnel connecting Chile with Argentina has been completed. The tunnel portal in Argentina will lie to the north of San Juan so National Route 40 will carry traffic travelling to and from Chile.
The upgrade works will provide a direct link between the two main capitals of the Cuyo region, located in the north-western part of Argentina. The new link will run from
Mendoza’s international airport on the north-eastern side of the city, to San Juan’s Bicentennial Stadium.
The roadway is being designed with two lanes in either direction, all four of which have a width of 3.65m. In addition, each side has a 2.5m-wide shoulder. A key feature of the highway will be the use of a PMB type of asphalt surfacing designed to minimise spray and aquaplaning in wet weather.
Argentina’s Ministry of Transportation is providing the financing for the project, as well as supervising the construction. In January 2018, the contracts were awarded for the construction of two stretches of the highway in San Juan. Both contracts were won by the contractor Green and were worth $52 million. In May 2018, the construction began carrying out the work of cleaning and clearing the land and currently advance the tasks of soil movement and construction of embankments. According to the latest technical reports, around 5% of the necessary work has been carried out for the project.
Meanwhile the first contract for the two highway sections in Mendoza has also been awarded. The 18km stretch will extend from the outskirts of the city, from the international airport, to the junction with provincial route 34, next to Jocolí Viejo.
In this way, three of the five stretches of the Mendoza-San Juan Highway have already been awarded. This accounts for 71km of the 87km corridor. The two remaining sections of the project will total 16km and will be for the RP 34-Jocolí stretch and a section between Jocolí and Tres Esquinas. Both sections will be put out to tender and will be offered under the PPP model.
The project to upgrade the Mendoza-San Juan highway is being complemented by the upgrade of two sections of the road network for San Juan itself, with this work costing $43 million. The city’s 6km North and 5km South access roads are being improved, with 44% and 80% respectively of the planned work already having been carried out.