ENSENADA.- Days after a 4.6 earthquake struck south of Ensenada, the Tijuana-Ensenada toll road has collapsed towards the sea and threatens on continuing to sink, although no injuries where reported.
The scenic road had already seen evidence of fractures and sinking since December 19th, the day of the earthquake, with many travelers posting pictures on social media of the increasingly critical situation of the highway.
However, no official state geologist or road engineers have confirmed the collapse is due completely to the earthquake, with only the state government saying that "natural causes" were to blame.
UPDATE: Baja California State Civil Protection has also put out the official version that this was due to a fault line running through the area (Spanish).
This morning, the small fractures suddenly turned into enormous cracks on the cliffside, plunging the highway deeper and towards the sea (while not there ye), with some parts caving almost 300 feet.
Vía Uniradioinforma.com, State Civil Protection director Antonio Rosquillas said early saturday morning that the collapse began to worsen around 2:30 a.m.
The collapse happened at the Salsipuedes stretch of highway towards Ensenada overlooking steep bluffs, only about 10 miles north of Ensenada and the San Miguel toll booth, and 56 miles south of the border.
Authorities will now close the highway from the La Misión toll to the San Miguel toll, forcing travelers to take the old non-toll road from La Misión to Ensenada, a alternate route of about 30 miles (although, not much difference in total travel time and goes through the countryside).
Also, the Baja state government advises travelers to take Federal Road 3 if they are heading out from Tecate towards Ensenada, or use the old Ensenada - San Felipe road for trips from Mexicali to Ensenada, or viceversa.
There are conflicting accounts about just how much time will the highway remain closed for. Frontera reports that Rosa María Castañeda, regional director of the Federal Roads and Bridges agency responsible for the highway (Capufe in Spanish), has said that it might only take a week until the road reopens once again, although it's hard to look at these pictures:
and conclude that it might only take a week. Other reports put the total time needed for such repairs at one year.
Meanwhile, the mayor of Ensenada, Gilberto Hirata, has blamed Capufe for not closing the highway stretch between La Misión and Ensenada earlier, even after reports of serious faults started to appear on social media and after the urging of state officials to do so.
He also stated that they were already in talks with federal and state authorities about constructing an alternate road or replacing the highway altogether with a bridge or another road after years of trouble with the current scenic route.
It is believe that the collapse was brought on by the december 19 earthquake that struck near the population of Camalú, south of Ensenada in Baja.
The collapse would be devastating for the city of Ensenada and to the overall economy of the state, as the city is home to the third busiest cruise ship terminal in Mexico and gateway to the rest of Baja by sea.