The building of a viaduct instead of a tunnel to extend the Cinta Costera, will not bring the promised $103 million savings says the Ministry of Public Works (MOP).
During a tour of the area where the six lane highway will be built joining Avenida Balboa and Avenida de Los Poetas, The Director of Special Projects, Carlos Ho, said that the contract was awarded for $776.6 million, but later rose to $782.1 million because, the MOP requested an extension of the funding deadline
The cost of the Cinta Costera three (CC3) remains unchanged, although the project tendered and awarded to Norberto Odebrecht included the construction of a tunnel.
Previously, the MOP had said that it preferred the sea bridge option, because it was cheaper than a tunnel.
Said Ho :"The construction change, the alternative road bridge rather than a tunnel, does not imply a change in the contractual arrangements , since it is meeting its economic and social objectives set out in the statement of objections," he said.
Ho argued that the specifications requested bidders to consider as a "basic design reference" a tunnel, but could have other options for evaluation by the MOP. "The important thing is that they were equal to or cheaper than the tunnel."
The 2.8 km viaduct will occupy an area of ??6.68 hectares. It will be divided into nine structures: seven bays and two marine bridges and "connection paths". Construction of the viaduct will take 32 months, and 37 months for the whole project.
Yesterday, during a tour of the bay to see the area where the viaduct will rise, Ho said that the viaduct will cost $103 million less than the tunnel, a saving which, he says, will benefit other "components" of the project.
"It will be up to the executive to decide what to do with the remaining money. We will suggest investment in sports fields and playgrounds," he said.
On September 7, a day after delivering "impact studies" to the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO, in Paris, the MOP announced the start of construction of the viaduct and gave an order to ask Odebrecht to go to their suppliers for the "forms" (metal molds that allow constructing beams), said Ho.
Meanwhile, the deputy director of the National Institute of Culture (INAC), Raul Castro said that the World Heritage Committee was informed last week that construction of the sea route would begin. The Committee had requested the suspension of the work to assess the affects on the heritage value of Casco Viejo.
"Unesco can make recommendations, but cannot prevent the project continuing," said Castro.
A year ago Casco Viejo was about to join Unesco’s endangered heritage list , because of the advances in CC3. The project will be evaluated at the next meeting of the Committee in June 2013, in Cambodia.
Sebastian Paniza, president of the Panamanian chapter of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), regretted that the work started without the recommendations of Unesco. "The State has responsibilities and commitments to Panama which have not been met, "he said
The environmental impact study of the project includes the viaduct-plus-a mall in Arosemena Pablo Avenue and two fillings in San Felipe, which together account for 10.6 hectares. One will be in front of the Presidential Palace and another adjacent to the Avenida de Los Poetas, already under construction. A third filling, a tourist breakwater, is near completion on Avenida Balboa.
The 2.9 hectare land filling near the Palace is to provide "continuity" to the second phase of the ribbon and includes a cobbled square with fountain, and 144 parking spaces for "institutional" and visitor use
The other filler is between San Felipe and Santa Ana, and will include bicycle paths, playing fields, and 350 parking spaces. This filling, before becoming a recreational area, will be used by Odebrecht as a "precasting yard for construction of the viaduct."