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Cancun, Riviera Maya highway will be affected for two years while work is done to repair sinkholes, construct train

Cancun, Q.R. — Work on repairing sinkholes along the Cancun-Tulum highway has begun. The work, which was delayed due to bureaucratic procedures, will see two large sinkhole repaired and alterations made to accompany the upcoming Maya Train.

The work began one day after the National Tourism Promotion Fund (Fonatur) assumed control of the federal highway where the Maya Train will pass. Federal Deputy Luis Alegre Salazar reported that the work to address the problem of cavities along the highway will include alternate detours to streamline vehicular traffic.

He said the work began Tuesday and is expected to last about two years since it will involve both repairs and alterations. He said that although the highway crack outside Cancun was expected to be repaired by November, this is unlikely since the problem, technically known as dome collapse, looks only like a crack on the surface. But in reality, he says it is about 120 meters in diameter and is a risk that requires specialized attention.

“In the area there are already machines making exploration holes. There will be underground drilling with state-of-the-art technology and the necessary time will be taken, since the work will be done correctly.

“Filling is not the solution as was done last time, because being in an area of underground rivers, the water is looking for other channels, which causes what happened now,” he said.

During an interview with Radio Fórmula, he explained that they will place piles that will support something like a buried bridge to allow the flow of water and at the same time, support the weight of the road and the Maya Train, something that is not an easy task.

“Deviations will be built at the height of the high voltage lines with which we will seek to streamline vehicular traffic in that area. We ask users for their understanding, that they make provisions to leave in advance for the two years that the Maya Train work will take,” he added.

“In the next five months, the problem of the failures will be resolved, but for two years there will be effects…so to alleviate the vehicular pressure there will be parallel roads,” he stressed.

The director of Fonatur, Rogelio Jiménez Pons, also said that while studies and repairs are being carried out on the tunnels north of Playa del Carmen and on one on the way to Tulum, an alternate road will be enabled, taking advantage of the rights of way under the power lines parallel to the Cancun-Tulum corridor.

The official explained that the so-called sinkholes are two persistent faults with different characteristics, the remediation of which cannot be immediate since one of them covers more than 120 meters, which extends underground toward the sea.

The characteristics of the karst soil of the Yucatan Peninsula makes the solution more difficult since it is a highly fragile porous surface, which has required geological, soil and topographic studies. This condition does not prevent the finding of effective solutions, he said, but stated that repairs will take the rest of the year.

The sinkholes to be repaired are located on the federal highway in the Cancun-Playa del Carmen section at the height of Playa Paraíso and in the Playa del Carmen-Tulum section at the height of Puerto Aventuras.

The work began after a meeting between Alegre Salazar, who represents López Obrador to monitor the sections of the Maya Train and Jiménez Pons, to address the sinkholes issues in the federal highway.

“Due to bureaucratic problems, the work on the fault that currently exists at kilometer 306 of the tourist corridor between Cancun and Riviera Maya had not been delivered. As of Monday, Fonatur took over and we will present a comprehensive solution,” he said.

The work for the entire project is expected to be complete in December of 2023.