Construction of new freeway still pending
By Antonio De Jesús Aguado
San Miguel entrepreneurs have shown their support for the Autopista del Bicentenario (Bicentennial Freeway) from San Miguel to Guanajuato, as have the inhabitants of the indigenous communities “if it does not affect their tangible and intangible heritage.” The construction of this road has been delayed for four years.
This year, on February 10, the secretary of the State Public Works Department (SOP), Arturo Durán Miranda, held a meeting with Mayor Mauricio Trejo and several San Miguel entrepreneurs. During the meeting, the secretary explained that the SOP is working on a new layout for the road in order to avoid negatively affecting the heritage of the indigenous communities of the city, such as Cruz del Palmar.
In an interview for Atención, Javier Álvarez Brunell, president of San Miguel’s Consejo Coordinador Empresarial (Corporate Coordinating Council), said that with Durán’s presentation they found out that the new layout proposed by the SOP does not damage the heritage of the communities. Álvarez also commented that they attended that meeting because they wanted to understand more about the project and why it was taking so long to be constructed. He highlighted that the transportation lines between San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato ought to be improved, not just for the sanmiguelenses who frequently take that route but also for tourists who land at the International Airport of León, BJX, and would be able to arrive in the city more safely and quickly. “The current road is not wide enough, and it is a risk for transit. The new road would be an alternative for commerce and tourism,” he commented.
The president of the council said that “the construction of the road cannot depend on the interests of particular groups” and that sanmiguelenses must be informed about this topic so they can have a more objective opinion.
The director of public relations of the SOP, David Olivier, told Atención that they are working on a new layout before the publication of the anthropological study conducted by the INAH (National Institute of Anthropology and History) about the indigenous communities near Cruz del Palmar. The new layout would modify nine kilometers of the road and would pass to the north of those communities. The director said in addition that the SOP last year hired PADIS, a company from León, which is conducting a social study in the indigenous communities that could be affected by the freeway. Through this study, they are learning that in those communities there is a lack of schools, rural roads and clinics, and if the freeway is constructed then parallel to it those services could also be built. Olivier also said that the SOP and the SCT (Secretariat of Communications and Transportation) would construct a state-owned scenic overlook where the locals would be allowed to sell their handicrafts and that locals would be employed for the road construction. Olivier remarked that the INAH has not given a deadline to present the results of the study, but the SOP wanted to have a new proposal in advance, to continue the bidding process and start the construction as soon as possible.
The president of the Indigenous Communities of Guanajuato, Magdaleno Ramírez, told Atención that the federal and state authorities have not contacted him since August of last year. He reiterated: “We are not against the construction of this road; we are against the layout. We do not want our communities divided, nor the division of ancestral roads between San Miguel and Atotonilco.”
In December 2010, the state government and the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation agreed to accept bids for the Autopista Bicentenario, at an estimated cost of 2.5 billion pesos. The same month, Juan Manuel Oliva Ramírez, then governor of the state, said that the freeway would have a two-lane extension of 80 kilometers; it would start in Silao, pass through Guanajuato, and connect with the road to Juventino Rosas. Later, it would pass through El Xoconoxtle and finish in San Miguel de Allende near Taboada. Oliva Ramírez said that the new road would strengthen the industrial corridor and would improve the “golden triangle of tourism,” made up of Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende.
Finally, on July 2, 2013, the State Communication and Transportation Department published a call for bids for the construction of the freeway. Governor Miguel Márquez said that the result would be published last September 17. The construction should have started in January this year, and the road could be open in 2016.
On July 22, 2013, the representative of the indigenous communities of the state submitted an application of amparo against the road layout, and two months later a judge ordered the temporary suspension of the bidding process.