A multinational consortium led by Argentine firm Corporacion America (CASA) aims to begin technical and geological studies for a railway tunnel connecting Chile and Argentina before year-end, CASA representative Eduardo Rodriguez told BNamericas.
"The studies are to be completed before the end of 1H11, so a construction tender can be launched shortly afterwards," Rodriguez said.
The studies, which will cost around US$30mn, aim to establish whether the area has the appropriate geological conditions to build the 52km tunnel.
The US$3bn private initiative was declared of public interest by Chilean and Argentine authorities last year. Other participants in project include Japanese firm Mitsubishi, Argentina's Contreras Hnos, Italy's Geodata and Chilean company Empresas Navieras.
The tunnel will be built at an altitude of 2,000-2,500m and aims to relieve traffic congestion on the Los Libertadores mountain pass, which is often closed in winter due to bad weather. Currently around 75-80% of trade between Chile and Argentina travels via the pass.
The full interview with Eduardo Rodriguez is published in this week's Infrastructure Perspectives, for subscribers only.