SANTIAGO – Construction will begin in February 2015 on the 2,750-meter (9,016-foot) Chacao Channel Bridge, the largest structure of its type in Latin America, linking mainland Chile to Chiloe Island, Public Works Minister Loreto Silva said Wednesday.
“During the period starting between today and Feb. 15, 2015, we are going to work on the final engineering project and all of the other aspects necessary to move this project forward,” Silva said.
The public works minister and representatives of the consortium constructing the structure met on Wednesday with officials from the southern region of Los Lagos, where the bridge is being built, providing them with information about the project.
The $680 million bridge will be built by a consortium made up of Brazil’s OAS, South Korea’s Hyundai, France’s Systra and Norway’s Aas-Jakobsen.
The consortium was awarded the contract for the project in December after being the only group to participate in an auction that started in May.
The bridge, which will have three nearly 200-meter (655-foot) towers, is expected to be completed in April 2020 and open to traffic in July of that year.
Residents have long dreamed of linking mainland Chile to Chiloe Island, located about 1,100 kilometers (683 miles) south of Santiago.
Ferries and other boats currently provide transportation between the mainland and the island.
President Ricardo Lagos’s administration proposed constructing a bridge in 2005, but the project was halted during President Michelle Bachelet’s first term due to its high cost.
President Sebastian Pińera’s administration revived the project and Bachelet, who will be sworn in for a second term on March 11, has vowed to build the bridge.