Plans for a 43-kilometer bridge spanning the River Plate and connecting Argentina and Uruguay took a giant step forward today with the signing of a construction agreement.

The Argentina/China Chamber of Commerce (ACC) signed the agreement with China Dalian International Group (CDIG), the Dalian-based engineering and construction company that specializes in large-scale infrastructure projects outside of China.

The signed agreement establishes the framework for the construction of a 43-kilometer (26.7 mile) bridge connecting the coastal town of Punta Lara south of Buenos Aires with Colonia, Uruguay. The bridge would have four lanes for cars, four lanes for trucks, two railroads for passenger and freight trains, and a system of windmills, water turbines and photovoltaic panels generating electricity along the length of the span.

According to Cronista, the private initiative with an estimated construction cost of US$1.8 billion financed by two Chinese banks will go to the Argentine Congress in 2015 for approval. If approved, Argentina would then open the official bid process for the construction of the bridge which would be the fourth-longest bridge in the world.

When asked about the geopolitical motivations for the project, ACC director Carlos Spadone says, “The Chinese have a political interest in building this type of project for the fact they could say they bridged Latin America. In addition, the ports of Uruguay are deep water ports which means lower transportation costs (for the regional commodities they export).”

Spadone says the Chinese would ship the iron from their mills to Argentina where the pilings would be built and erected across the River Plate. An economic impact study estimates the bridge project will create 14,000 jobs during the four years of construction. If approved next year, the bridge could be in operation before 2020. (Full Story in Spanish)

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