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In Mexico City Mud, Pena Nieto’s $13 Billion Airport Project Bogs Down

Andrea Navarro - Bloomberg
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September 13, 2017

The construction of a new Mexico City International airport begun in 2015 after 10 years of delays. Officials said it would become a "new national symbol." Critics noted its location in a nature preserve would seriously affect lives in a dramatic way. (CGTN America)

Outside Mexico City, on a muddy stretch of land about the size of Manhattan, plans to build a shiny, new airport at a breakneck pace are at risk of unraveling.

A rail line designed to ferry materials is late. So is one of the runways. A key contractor filed for bankruptcy, the project coordinator sued the airport operators and a bridge linking up to a highway collapsed in last week’s earthquake.

Anyone who’s ever worked on a construction site - especially a major public works one in Latin America - will attest that mishaps and delays are all part of the job. But in the case of the New International Airport of Mexico City, the constant stream of troubles could come with some pretty hefty consequences for President Enrique Pena Nieto.

Replacing the nation’s grossly overcrowded main airport has been a key promise during Pena Nieto’s six-year term. Further delays to the $13 billion airport would be a stain on his record that goes beyond just hurting the chances of the next guy running on his party’s ticket. The left-leaning opponent who wants to take Pena Nieto’s place has vowed to scrap the project altogether.

The new facility is being built to handle as many as 68 million passengers a year by 2020 and includes a futuristic terminal designed by architect and Pritzker Prize winner Norman Foster and Fernando Romero, the son-in-law of billionaire Carlos Slim. The entire airport will be housed in a single X-shaped glass-and-steel structure that will collect and recycle rainwater and take advantage of natural light to boost sustainability.

... But the airport is up against an ambitious timeline if it wants to accelerate the pace in time for the 2018 presidential elections and wrap up work by 2020. It won’t be easy. The site sits atop an old waterlogged lake bed that requires some major engineering might to tame.

Read the rest at Bloomberg

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