Easing Andean travel


Los Libertadores pass.



The Los Libertadores pass between Chile and Argentina is breathtakingly beautiful.

It rises 12,000 feet into the Andes, among snow-capped peaks and past meandering mountain streams.

But with hair-raising switchbacks, it's also notoriously difficult to traverse.

When the crossing closes, cars and trucks sit backed up for miles, sometimes for days.

To avoid this choke point in international travel and commerce, Chilean and Argentine officials are discussing new tunnel projects that would ease winter crossings.

The public-private investment would focus on three border crossings, reports La Tercera.

At the Los Libertadores pass, a new tunnel may be added with a train system running through it, reports the Santiago Times. A tunnel already cuts under the mountains here, but the access road closes frequently due to snowfall and rock slides.

The project would also involve boring through the mountains and building tunnels for the Las Leñas and Agua Negra crossings. The Agua Negra pass now shuts down in the winter.

Construction could take up to 10 years. Chilean Public Works Minister Laurence Golborne said the improvements would offer access to the Pacific Ocean to Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina through Chilean roads and ports.

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