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New $13B Mexico City Airport Officially Scrapped

Thursday, November 1, 2018

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Mexico City’s new $13.3 billion airport—which is about one-third complete—is officially scrapped following a public referendum which ended in 70 percent voting to cancel construction.

Mexico’s president-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador pledged to respect the outcome of the public vote, which was a pillar of his recent campaign. The plan is to now upgrade the current international airport with two new runways.

What Happened

In August, Obrador announced in a press conference the fate of the airport will ultimately be left up to public opinion and the masses will decide whether to:

  • Cancel the plans and replace the new airport design with two additional runways at the Santa Lucia military airport, linked to the existing airport, or
  • Tender the development and allow private investors to fund the construction.

Funding was one of the main points of contention surrounding the project as Obrador ran on a platform highlighting possible corruption and wasteful spending surrounding the plans during his campaign.

Foster + Partners

Mexico City’s new $13.3 billion airport—which is about one-third complete—is officially scrapped following a public referendum which ended in 70 percent voting to cancel construction.

The stability of the project—in addition to the money concerns—were also at the forefront for those opposing the airport. The People’s Front in Defense of Land-Atenco, a political group, had been in strict opposition of the project since its conception in 2014. The group argues that the new airport isn’t viable for several reasons, including the land surrounding the site, which it says is unsuitable for construction, citing the presence of subterranean water and other environmental concerns.

Only about 1.2 percent of Mexico’s registered voters turned out for the referendum—which was held over four days—breaking down to about 311,132 people voting for the current project to continue and 750,000 against.

Obrador says that canceling the project will save the federal government around 100 billion pesos ($5 billion) and that updating the existing airport would cost about 70 billion pesos.

The Scrapped Plan

The new aiport’s design plan was the result of a conglomeration comprised of Foster + Partners, Fernando Romero Enterprise and Netherlands Airport Consultants. The group won an international architectural competition for the project in 2014.

That airport would have been one of the largest in the world with up to six runways and a 560,000-square-meter terminal. The scheme would have also been Mexico’s largest infrastructure project.

Spans of the airport were to be in excess of 100 meters (the largest 170 meters) and designers said that they were influenced by Mexican architecture.


Tagged categories: Airports; Construction; Government

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