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Mexico's 11.5bn-peso (US$563mn) Puebla elevated highway opened on Tuesday in a ceremony attended by President Enrique Peña Nieto.
The structure built over the Mexico-Puebla-Veracruz highway will reduce travel time on a 15km stretch to 10 minutes from the current 50, and will be used by 11,000 vehicles per day, according to authorities.
A day before the inauguration, however, Puebla state governor Rafael Moreno Valle revealed that, as a result of damages caused to the Mexico-Puebla-Veracruz highway during the construction of the elevated highway, the ground level of the highway will need repairs estimated at 150mn pesos. The additional funds will come from a trust fund set up by the companies in charge of building the elevated highway.
The governor announced that following completion of the repair works, a 15km ground-level stretch of the lower highway will be turned into a boulevard with traffic lights, and closed off to trucks and other heavy traffic. It will be under the state government's jurisdiction.
The Puebla elevated highway project was developed under a public-private partnership (PPP) model, with federal and state funds. The 30-year contract to build and operate the highway was awarded to Libramiento Elevado de Puebla, a consortium formed by OHL México and Pinfra.
After the 30-year concession expires, management of the asset will be turned over to the state government of Puebla.
According to local press outlets, the toll for using the 15km elevated highway will be between 45-55 pesos (US$2.41-2.95).
President Peña Nieto said that the Puebla elevated highway is one of 52 toll highways to be completed during his term, 26 of which are already in operation.
In addition, the federal government has already completed works in half of the 80 non-toll federal highways in the country that were in need of upgrading, he added.
Construction of the elevated highway started in August 2014 and the original completion date had been set for July of this year. The original cost estimate was 10bn pesos.
The public sector provided 5.5bn pesos of the needed investments, while the rest came from the concessionaire.