Santa Lucia Construction to be Completed in 700 DaysBy Pedro Alcalá | Tue, 04/21/2020 - 17:57
On Monday’s morning press conference, President López Obrador presented a video progress report (uploaded to YouTube by Notimex) from SEDENA reporting the current status of the ongoing construction of the Santa Lucia Airport, also known as Felipe Ángeles International Airport, which continues despite COVID-19 shutdowns given its classification as essential. The video begins with an aerial shot of a 3D render showing what the finished facilities would look like, highlighting a control tower of contemporary design. These images transition to the actual worksite in its presumably current state as a voiceover begins explaining that all construction focused on external interconnections, such as lane expansions and land reclamations, with the nearby Tultepec highway tollbooth is taking place with the assistance and supervision of environmental authorities and INAH (given the possibility of excavations hitting upon archeological remains).
The video shows the current state of the main runway, which is currently going through an upper coating of hydraulic concrete along with the installation of subterranean drainage infrastructure for rainwater collection. According to the video, the passenger terminal is at the moment going through the process of cementing the tower cranes which are being currently occupied in the ongoing installation of its steel framework. Details in the foundations are being addressed and seismic isolators continue to be installed. Electrical and data transmission infrastructure is going through its early installation phase, with main cabling trenches being dug at the present time.
Construction of the airport’s civilian facilities is happening at the same time as the military base is being expanded to compensate for the loss of military installations that the airport creates. This “military logistical complex” will have its own runway currently being built from scratch and thus going at the moment through its preliminary excavation phase and the installation of its initial hydraulic foundations. The video also presents a 3D render of what this military base will look like when finished, built in a size and style similar to that of Mexico City´s military installations. The video ends by reporting that 19,128 civilian jobs have been created through this project and that the completion of all construction activities is 700 days away – March 21, 2022.
This progress report must be understood in the context of the value that this administration has assigned to this construction and a handful of other infrastructure projects which are considered key to the national development strategy. As such, the report is likely to overlook some recent problematic observations made by the national media. For example, over the weekend, Proceso published a report detailing the degree to which recently inaugurated military facilities in Santa Lucia have had to be demolished to make way for the new airport. This specifically includes over US$26 million of military schools and training centers completed and opened in 2018, during President Enrique Peña Nieto’s previous administration, now scheduled to be “relocated” and rebuilt. The additional costs that this represents, according to Proceso, are not being contemplated in the airport’s Development Master Plan. This is in addition to the over US$18 million invested in rehabilitation and maintenance of Santa Lucia’s military facilities between 2015 and 2018. The Santa Lucia military base was a habitational complex as well, housing military families plus the schools and hospitals they attended. Additional expenses for the temporary relocation of these families is yet to be tabulated. Needless to say, these criticisms are not mentioned as part of the progress report presentation but are worth mentioning to provide a more complete panorama of the project’s lifecycle and its controversial nature.