An engineering megaproject is in the evaluation phase at the National Infrastructure Agency (ANI): the second tunnel of La Línea.
In an interview with Portfolio, Hildebrando Rojas, senior director of China Harbor Engineering Company Colombia branch, firm at the head of the initiative, and that is working on the Bogotá Metro, said that the tunnel will have 11 km.
How are you working to make this project a reality?
More than two years ago, we began the structuring of the private initiative for the construction of the second La Línea Tunnel by presenting the studies in the pre-feasibility phase, which at the time were approved by the ANI.
It gave us the go-ahead to continue in the development and structuring of the initiative in the feasibility phase, which we concluded with the delivery on June 1 of the structuring.
What phase is the project in, how is it progressing?
Two important phases remain, the first is the evaluation by the ANI, for which it hires an external evaluator who verifies that the private initiative, executed under the concession scheme, is profitable and viable.
This phase takes time, initially six months, which can be extended for another three months.
Based on this diagnosis of the external evaluator and the ANI, they proceed to the phase of evaluating with the National Planning Department (DNP) and with the Ministry of Transportation and the Ministry of Finance whether the project is profitable in the long term.
The second phase is if it is determined that the project is viable and the market is invited to meet expressions of interest.
What is the role of China Harbour?
We are the leading company in the process, we have 90% of the private structure that makes up the originator, that is, the consortium that presents the initiative to the ANI.
Based on the experience we have gathered in the region, as well as in Colombia, we imprint our technical and financial qualities so that the project can be developed with the required service levels and with sufficient technology available worldwide.
Do you have an estimate of the resources that need to be invested?
In one of the deliverables in the feasibility phase is the financial model that verifies the financing of the project, but according to Colombian law, all those numbers are kept in reserve while the ANI continues to be evaluated.
From which point to which point will the tunnel go?
This tunnel is parallel to the current one and starts in the department of Tolima, and would be for the traffic that goes from Bogotá to Buenaventura.
It will be right where the current one begins, at the Bermellón interchange in Tolima and would arrive on the Quindío side at the Américas interchange.
This road tunnel will be the longest in the country and the American continent. It would have around 11 km.
How long would your construction phase last?
The tunnel is quite complex to develop and build and the project is expected to take 72 months to complete. However, construction teams are evaluating alternatives to develop it in record time.
When could a date be given for Colombians to see it?
In nine months the ANI completes the evaluation period, a date that is recorded in the initiative documents.
How much could you reduce travel times?
The heavy trucks that are going to benefit the most from the project and that are the ones that would logically take the products from the interior to the Pacific basin, that is, abroad, increasing the level of exports of the country that is so much required. In turn, it would make the products of the interior much more competitive in the international market, it could be more important than the first tunnel on the line.
In general, the section would reduce journey times by between one hour and forty-five minutes.
Why more important?
Of course, because what this project does is make our products more competitive, the other tunnel on the line made foreign products more competitive so they could reach the Colombian market.
What are the engineering challenges?
The Crossing of the Cordillera Central has always been of enormous complexity for engineering, but we are fortunate that there are already two previous tunnels. The first is called the Pilot Tunnel and the first La Línea Tunnel, which with these two excavations we already have a clearer picture of what we are going to face.
How to guarantee that the same will not happen in the delays of the first?
The first La Línea Tunnel had several contractors, different work fronts and as such it was developed in stages. In contrast, this project is going to have a single contract, a single contractor with a lot of international experience. The fact of having a single contract and a contractor will allow the development of quality projects with fewer setbacks.
PAULA GALEANO BALAGUERA