Tijuana-Ensenada Toll Road Collapse No Surprise To Mexican Geologists
Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Aired 1/2/14 on KPBS News.
One of the most scenic portions of the coastal highway between Tijuana and Ensenada collapsed on Dec. 28, plunging a cement truck at least 100 feet toward the sea. Geologists had warned for decades the area was unstable.
The portion of the Tijuana-Ensenada coastal highway that collapsed a few days after Christmas had been a known danger zone for decades.
In the early hours of Dec. 28, a cement truck was traveling on the highway some 58 miles south of the U.S.–Mexico border when the road collapsed, plunging truck and driver some 100 feet toward the sea. The driver was not injured.
The area where the collapse occurred is called “Salsipuedes,” which translates to “get out if you can.”
The coastal highway — built in the 1960s — is cut into a steep slope above a strikingly beautiful bay that’s also a favorite surf spot.
Geologists have warned for decades that the land around the bay is highly unstable. Despite the risks, the Mexican government decided to build the road there anyway, hoping to attract tourism.
Luis Delgado, a geologist at the Ensenada-based research institute CICESE,said the highway was fine for its original purpose.
But after 40 years, things have changed a lot, Delgado said.
“Now we receive very heavy buses, tractors and a lot more cars,” he said.
Hefty commercial vehicles — like the cement truck that finally caused the highway to collapse — shouldn’t be allowed on the coastal highway, Delgado said.
Mexican authorities are evaluating how and where to rebuild the stretch of road that collapsed.
In the meantime, travelers are being rerouted inland to the older, safer highway.