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Tijuana-Ensenada Toll Road Collapse No Surprise To Mexican Geologists

Protección Civil Baja California

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.

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.

Comments

Avatar for user 'DonWood'

DonWood | January 1, 2014 at 2:20 p.m. ― 7 months, 4 weeks ago

Sempra Energy's Coasta Azul Liquid Natural Gas plant sits on a point right next to where the toll road collapsed. It has a network of underground gas lines radiating out from the plant. What impact did the quake have on that gas pipeline network? How about a follow up story on this?

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Avatar for user 'Mmikey'

Mmikey | January 2, 2014 at 9:11 a.m. ― 7 months, 4 weeks ago

it costs less to pay off inspectors than to do quality work.

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Avatar for user 'FA'

FA | January 2, 2014 at 10:38 a.m. ― 7 months, 4 weeks ago

To say Ensenada and surrounding coastal areas rely on the road to support much needed tourism is a underestatement at best. The implementation of a quick, effective fix would challenge any community. Don't be surprised to see the local government rise to the occasion on this one. There is a lot riding on this road (no pun intended).

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Avatar for user 'Jill Replogle'

Jill Replogle, KPBS Staff | January 3, 2014 at 10:45 a.m. ― 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Thanks for the suggestion, DonWood. The LNG plant is quite a bit further south from where the collapse happened but the state of the underground pipe network is definitely worth looking into.

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