New road scheme is claimed to improve links between Huixquilucan (pictured) and Mexico City

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Mexico City and Mexico State cannot
bridge differences over road building

By Adriana Maciel, Mexico Editor

21 January 2007: Work on the construction of a bridge and a six-lane traffic distributor road on protected federal land between Mexico City and the State of Mexico - called “Barranca (ravine) de Hueyatlaco” – which was stopped for more than two years, was recently restarted amid raging controversy. Protesters say that the wealthy owners of real estate companies in the State of Mexico have the most to gain, and they further allege that central government has colluded with those companies. They fears that construction, followed by massive housing development, will destroy one of the city’s last ‘oxygen lungs’ and affect water supply.

Edwin Seymour, President of the Association of Residents of Bosques de las Lomas in Mexico City, claims that the works contravene an agreement reached several years ago between residents and Mexico City’s government, under Mayor Andres Manuel López Obrador, that such work would damage the environment and therefore it would not take place. The residents’ association are demanding that the agreement be honoured.

Work has started at the ravine near Huixquilucan, just outside Mexico City, one of the richest municipalities in the State of Mexico. The works are just 60 metres from Mexico City, within the limits of the political subdivision of Cuajimalpa, the wealthiest political subdivision in Mexico City, where furious residents and officials are protesting.

According to Mr Seymour, the most interested parties in the construction of the bridge and road are the real estate companies of the State of Mexico, which are promoting, among other schemes, the Bosque Real development project on 600 hectares. Thousands of houses and apartments for the richest Mexican families are envisaged.

One angry resident in Polanco, Mexico City, accused the State of Mexico of colluding with the real state companies. He claimed that the document signed by the Mexico City government, stating that the road would not be built, was still in force.

Behind the $16m Bosque Real development project are four of the richest men in Mexico. Without adequate road access they would find difficulty in selling the new homes. Research commissioned by the residents’ association found that the road and bridge would cause an increase of 21,000 cars in transit added to the already daily 70,000.

Commission of Metropolitan Development of the Congress, and the head of the political subdivision of Cuajimalpa, Remedios Ledezma, both stated that they would not allow the works to reach beyond Mexico City’s boundary. And the deputies of the PAN and PRD parties said they would not grant a change of land use within Cuajimalpa.

However, in 1995, the Mexico City government granted the necessary licences for the construction of a bridge over Barranca de Hueyatlaco within the limits of Huixquilucan and Cuajimalpa, and in 2004 the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources, together with the National Commission of Water, authorised environmental permits for the works.  Gerardo Ruiz Esparza, Secretary of Communications of the State, said that these authorisations were still in force. He added that “strong interests” were behind the conflict, and he did not rule out political motivations.

Euriel Avila, Coordinator of Deputies of the PRI party in the local congress, said they would not allow the works to be stopped by the city government. “The attitude of officials and deputies of the Federal District in relation to the road in question damages the good relations between both governments” he said.

The Governor of the State of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto of the PRI party, insisted that nobody was in it for personal gain. The road works were intended solely to solve the problem of a lack of roads in Huixquilucan and the sparse connections with Mexico City. He questioned the hostility of Cuajimalpa’s residents. But Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard, on the other hand, said there were many opinions on that matter, and what was necessary was a proper analysis of the issue in order to act for the benefit of citizens.

It is worth mentioning in all this that Governor Peña Nieto and Mexico City’s Mayor Marcelo Ebrard govern the two strongest entities in the country and are already strong contenders for the next presidential period. They can therefore be said to be ”enemies”, with this conflict being seen as a test of their political strengths.

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