The names of the contractors offering bids for the new Agua Negra Tunnel project connecting Chile and Argentina will be revealed in March 2018. Several firms have already expressed a keen interest in this major engineering project. Contractors that have expressed interest include CRS, a consortium comprising China Railway Tunnel Group and Benito Roggio e Hijos. In addition, Ingenieria y Construccion Sigdo Koppers and OHL are also interested in the project as are the firms Rovella and Condotte.
The project is being overseen by a bi-national commission, set up jointly by the two countries.
Preliminary loans from the IADB will pay for initial works. A loan of US$150 million has been secured for work in Chile with a loan of $130 million for work in Argentina. In all the project will require funding of some $1.5 billion. The project calls for the construction of dual tunnel bores that will both stretch 13.9km. The favoured tunnelling method has yet to be announced. The majority of the tunnel distance, 72% will be in Argentina, with the remaining 28% in Chile.
The new tunnel is expected to improve transport connections between Argentina and Chile. It will also help to deliver a much-needed boost for economic development in the area of Argentina where a portal will be located. Another tunnel is in use at present between the two countries but its portals can be blocked by snow in winter and it is not able to cope with traffic demand. There is also a high mountain pass but that is not suited to use by heavy vehicles and is also frequently inaccessible in winter due to snow.