Following a 4.6 magnitude earthquake on December 19th, a 900-foot-long chunk of toll road in Baja plummeted toward the sea. The road that once connected Tijuana with Ensenada collapsed ten days later. Fortunately there were no injuries, but the frightening “what-ifs” that continue to play out have highlighted the concerns of geologists, civil engineers and frequent travelers along this particular stretch of toll road near Kilometer 93. Those familiar with this portion of road all seem to share the same sentiment: it was only a matter of time.
As noted in a review conducted by The Ensenada Center for Scientific Research and Higher Education (CICESE) shortly after the toll road collapse, the initial projections and design of the toll road took place in the 1960s when traffic numbers and average vehicle weights were much lower than they are today. As he mentioned in a KPBS article earlier this month, CICESE geologist Luis Delgado initially said, “the highway was designed for tourism, basically.” Today, however, the toll road not only caters to tourists en route to Ensenada and towns further south, but also to tractors and other heavy commercial vehicles that ultimately pushed the portion of road around KM93 to its breaking point.