A local court has temporarily halted the construction of Cancun’s new vehicular bridge to the hotel zone over environmental concerns.
Environmentalist groups have rejected the massive infrastructure project arguing its possible impact on local flora and fauna, especially in the biodiverse mangroves of the Nichupté Lagoon.
The 250 million dollar flagship infrastructure project, Puente Vehicular Nichupté (Nichupté Vehicular Bridge), aims to connect Cancun’s crowded hotel zone to the mainland downtown area with an 8.8-kilometer-long bridge, decreasing traffic congestion.
Even though Quintana Roo’s government authorities approved the project, a local judge has suspended the works on the new bridge, claiming it lacks sufficient environmental studies for construction scheduled for 2024.
The group Defendiendo el Derecho al Medio Ambiente Sano (Defending the Right to a Healthy Environment or DMAS for its acronym in Spanish) endorsed the temporary suspension of the Urban Development Program of Cancun.
The group, which has actively opposed several other key projects, including the Maya Train, says the new bridge could potentially cause havoc on the rather delicate local ecosystem, destroying native habitats for regional species in the nearby lagoon.
After various problems of the Urban Development Program of the Municipality, the court ordered to suspension of the issuance of land use licenses, construction licenses, or expansion of buildings based on the Urban Development Program of Cancun. It also said that the construction permit – granted before by the office of the mayor of Benito Juárez (Cancun) – would affect wetlands, mangroves, and cenotes.
Once in effect, the ruling impedes further progress on the Nichupté vehicular bridge, despite over 5% of the project already being built.
On the other hand, on October 5, Grupo Ecologista del Mayab (Mayab Ecologist Group or GEMA for its acronym in Spanish) warned about the risks of contamination that would cause in the lagoon derived from the construction work of the road bridge.
Nevertheless, the legal suspension is still being determined. According to officials from Cancun’s government, the judge’s ruling will not end the construction of the new bridge because the project can still go ahead if they adjust their initial plan, avoiding the potential damage to local mangroves.
With more than 26 million visitors expected in Cancun and the Riviera Maya this year, the bridge was planned to reduce travel time to the hotel zone.
If completed late next year, as planned, the controversial bridge will be toll-free, open to pedestrians and cyclists, and have several lanes. Earlier this year, environmental groups successfully stopped certain parts of the government’s Maya Train project. However, a local judge approved the Cancun – Playa del Carmen segment.
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