Chilean tunnel re-tender draws European bidders

The first-ever Chilean concession is now up for re-tender nearly 20 years after it was initially awarded.

Four Spanish developers have joined a French counterpart and two Chilean companies to submit bids in the re-tender of Chile's $128 million El Melon Tunnel Project. 

Interested parties include OHL Concesiones Chile, Sacyr Concesiones Chile, Conpax Energia y Concesiones, Concesiones Viarias Chile Tres (a subsidiary of ACS), FCC Construction, Consorcio Echeverria Izquierdo-Aruco and Highway Investment Chile (a Vinci subsidiary). 

The concession, which will be awarded by the Chilean Ministry of Public Works, calls for the “construction, maintenance, and operation of infrastructure to improve the road's current technical and service standards, including an expansion of its capacity in line with the increase in traffic expected over the coming years”, according to Chilean foreign investment promotion agency CIE. The re-tender is aimed at improving the existing El Melon tunnel as well as expanding its capacity through the addition of a second tunnel. 

MOP concessions coordinator Eduardo Abedrapo saw the number of bids as “a sign of confidence in the concessions system, but more than that it is a great sign of confidence in the country”.

The tunnel project is located in the Petorca and Quillota provinces of the Valparaiso region. It has a total length of 5.19 kilometres, including 2,590 metres for the new tunnel proper and the remainder for its northern and southern access roads.

The existing five-kilometre El Melon Tunnel concession was awarded in April 1993 and entered operations in September 1995. Bids in the re-tender are set to be opened on 7 March.