By Dan and Lisa Goy
February 4, 2012 – We are on our way south to Cabo San Lucas with our next group after returning with our January Tour on February 1. The construction continues on many sections of the Highway and real progress continues. Mexico should be very proud of how much improvement they have made on the Baja Highway system over the past few years.
Highway 3: Tecate-Ensenada
They have made great progress on 10 km/6 miles of construction since we were last on this road in December, 2011. Lots of resources have been committed to this project, and it shows. Only 5km/3 miles of construction remains and it is very passable by rigs of all sizes. There is lots of new pavement and the gravel sections are graded and packed. We expect this will be complete in April, 2012.
Highway 19: Cabo San Lucas – Todos Santos
This is an amazing project for sure and the resources, both human and equipment, are substantial. Our guess would be that there are about 1,000 workers and 100 pieces of road-building equipment. We have heard they are working on this 24/7 and want it completed in time for the G20 Summit in June of this year, hosted by Mexico, to be held in Cabo San Lucas. The difference between our drive at the end of November, 2011 and our drive on January 21, 2012 was significant indeed. Only the major cuts and bridge construction sections remain in gravel, well graded and packed. The balance of the highway is paved, some with all four lanes completed, other sections only two lanes. We are confident this will be complete for June and look forward to seeing what they have accomplished when we are there again in three weeks.
Santo Tomás KM 39-KM 49
We have seen immense progress on this project since November 5, 2011. The entire section is now paved, although not entirely complete, with the exception of the actual cut though the mountain at KM 44-KM 47 (best guess). You still must detour around this section, partially on the old road, and switchback. We are confident that when we leave Baja with our last tour and drive this for the last time this season in April, we will drive on the new section that passes through the mountain.
Cataviña: North & South
This has all been paved for some time now and is now almost 100 percent complete. What is a bit puzzling and surprising is the new section south of Catavina where potholes are developing. We know little about the paving process; however, we can safely speculate that something went wrong with this particular project regarding the re-pavement aspects. The good news is we have seen road crews repairing many of these sections, and the road surface is once again improving. Those who drive this section often will recall this was once the worst section of Highway 1 for many years.
Our first experience on this 8-km/5-mile section, between the military checkpoint and Jesus Maria, was in early November 2011 and was brutal to say the least. The detour was for “Gringos Only” and the worst Baja gravel road we had been on for years. It was like driving to the San Javier Mission before it was paved. We are pleased to report that everyone is now detoured off the section in construction and the gravel road is in great shape, well graded and flat. We were safely and comfortably driving 30 km/20 miles per hour on this section. Progress on this section seems quite slow, with only a few pieces of equipment and a couple of crews ever spotted on the site. Why is this? We don’t know for sure, but we will see how things are coming in a week when we return south.