New Mazatlan-Durango Highway — Kay & Tony

Hello from Mazatlan, Mexico where Tony and I are spending 2 months for “Fun in the Sun”

I want to tell you about a trip we took last week. Years back when we were traveling around Mexico with Chapter 8 we visited several old colonial cities. There was one that Tony thought might be interesting but we were  warned away from it as the road between it and Mazatlan was named “The Devil’s Backbone”.

That road was so narrow with miles of approximately 2000 curves and switchbacks making it treacherous to navigate, and taking from 6 to 9 hours to travel from Mazatlan to Durango.

In October of 2013, after 12 years of unbelievable engineering, a new highway opened joining Mazatlan to Durango. We took a bus tour of the highway and city of Durango.

imageThe trip on this new super highway takes under 3 hours of driving through incredible  vistas and rock formations. The highlight of the road is the Baluarte Bicentennial Bridge, which is the highest cable-stayed suspension bridge in the world (403 m – 1322 ft from the valley below) and the longest in North America (1124 m – 3688 ft).

Baluarte Bicentennial BridgeThe center cable span is 520 m – 1710 ft).  It is a 4-lane bridge and to give you an idea of how high it is off the valley floor, the Eiffel Tower would fit under it. It took roughly 5 years to build at a cost of nearly $160 million US. (Keep in mind Mexican workers are paid much lower than the rest of North Americans doing the same job.)

There are 115 bridges on this 140-mile partial 4-lane highway as well as 62 tunnels. One of the tunnels is 2.8 km long. All the tunnels are lighted.

Getting electricity into the Sierra Madre Mountains must have been a huge undertaking. The road came in at about $2.2 billion US. The toll to drive this road is about 1000 pesos return (about $85 CDN).

In Durango we had a tour of some of the city which they have been busy beautifying for future appeal to tourists. It is a city of 600,000. We had a ride on a chair lift to a high hill so we got an overview of how large an area it covers.

We saw a couple of museums, had a trolley ride and viewed some wonderful sculptured walls. In the old train station we saw a huge map of Mexico that was built by Tiffany. We had a traditional Mexican meal at a lovely restaurant.

This road will definitely bring more tourism to Mazatlan but more importantly it will bring commerce over the Sierra Madre Mountains, safer and quicker.

Eventually they expect it will move 5 million vehicles a year (more than 4 times the number on the old road) plus produce and goods from Asia to all parts of Mexico and the southern US.

They are expanding the port in Mazatlan to take the big ships and are expecting a large increase to tourist trade. It was a wonderful 13-hour trip that left the old folks tired!

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