Search Baja California

Thursday, October 13, 2011

ROAD REPORT - Baja Road Construction


October 13, 2011 -Mexican Federal Highway (carretera federal) No. 1 follows the length of the Baja California Peninsula from Cabo San Lucas (BCS), at the southern most end to Tijuana (BC) in the north. The road turns into Interstate 5 (I-5) at the international border with the United States south of San Ysidro, California. Highway 1 is often called the Carretera Transpeninsular or Transpeninsular Highway and runs a length of 1711 km (1061 miles). Most of its length is two lanes and construction was completed in 1973. Hwy 19 between La Paz, Todos Santos and Cabo San Lucas ans Hwy 3 between Tecate, Ensenada and San Felipe are also very popular and well traveled.
There has always been road repair and construction on Baja's main highway arteries. From the day the road was finished, because of winter storms and summer Chubascos, bridges and roadways would be washed away and destroyed and need to be rebuilt. Add general wear and tear to a highway that sometimes saw little maintenance and you have the ever present road construction. Over the past few years the Mexican Government has taken road construction to a whole new level on Baja, both north and south as they are rebuilding and upgrading everything, section by section, piece by piece, HURRAY!
The bad news is a Baja highway under construction can be horrendous to drive on; the good news when it is finished, no more white knuckle, 2 hands seized onto the steering wheel, staring at the road, watching to see where your rear tire is style of driving. I drive all of the above road 4 times per season and have this advise when driving in road construction:
  • Go slow! Often the temporary road surface can be crappy, this would be a bad place for a flat tire or broken axle.
  • Go slow! Often the temporary road construction markers are sparse, confusing or non-existent. I have been on the wrong side of a detour more then once.
  • Go slow! Look carefully for flag persons who are not likely paying as much attention as the folks we experience in the US or Canada. Do not blindly follow their direction and objectively evaluate where they are telling you to go.
  • Go slow! Visibility can be an issue if the dust really kicks up, you should not be traveling fast when you cannot see 5 feet in front of you. Keep the windows up and lights on!
  • Go slow! Do not assume the detour or bypass will be 2 lanes wide just because it has 2 directions of traffic on it! Won't you be surprised to see that big semi-tractor in the only lane available coming around that corner suddenly!
  • Go slow! Despite the Slow Down & Do Not Pass signs many locals will take this opportunity to pass you, why not? Look how slow everyone is going! As they say be aware of your surrounding at all times.
  • Go slow! But not to slow if it has been raining, you really do not want to get stuck right here.
  • Go slow! And do not follow to close to the vehicle in front of you, although it always pretty handy to stay with them at a distance if he appears to know where the road is!
At this time the major road construction sites I know about are Hwy 1 driving southward into Santo Tomas from Maneadero (last years construction was completed, this is a new section further south). Hwy 1 north of Catavina and south of Catavina, these were likely the worst maintained part of the highway last season and it will be wonderful when this is all done, in the meantime we go slow and eat some dust. Hwy 19 from Todos Santos to Cabo San Lucas will be a 4 lane superhighway when finished, but not quite yet but soon we hope. As always, there are lots of small projects ongoing, all of these are yet another good reason not to drive at night.

Remember as a Baja Good Life Member you receive discounts on Mexican Auto insurance!