SANTIAGO Chilean President Michelle Bachelet presided on Monday at the ceremony to inaugurate construction of a new border complex at Los Libertadores Pass, the main land route through the Andes between her country and Argentina.
The new facility will be located 500 meters (yards) from the current one, about 3,000 meters (9,840 feet) above sea level and some 180 kilometers (112 miles) northeast of Santiago.
Authorities say they will improve the ability to process the tens of thousands of people who travel between the two countries each year.
Los Libertadores Pass, which also accommodates a huge volume of cargo and bus traffic, suffers frequent closures in the fall and winter due to heavy snowfall.
During the rest of the year, there are long delays in processing cross-border travelers due to traffic jams.
In January, for instance, traffic between the two nations was 35 percent higher than normal.
Bachelet emphasized at the inauguration ceremony that the project, which was bid upon by interested firms, will require an $87 million investment and will cover 32,000 square meters (about 344,000 square feet). Overall, the new facilities she said will allow authorities to triple the number of travelers they can process.
Currently, five vehicles can be processed simultaneously, a figure that will increase to 15 once the new installation is completed.
It will improve the quality of the services and reduce travel times, Bachelet said.
According to Chilean authorities, the new facility will begin operations in late 2019, given that construction must be suspended during the winter.