Torres del Paine National Park

Chacao Channel Bridge

Chacao suspension bridge, Chile.
A virtual view of Chacao Bridge, Chile

March, 2019.-   
Puente Chacao (Chacao Channel Bridge) is the project already in course to build what will be the longest, quake-proof suspension bridge in South America. Once finished, with its 2,750 meters long, the viaduct will link the Chilean continental territory with the Greater Island of Chiloe, in the Region de Los Lagos, also known as Chile's Tenth Region. The construction, in charge of the giant South Korean Hyundai, began in February 2018 and is expected to be completed in 2023.

It is worth mentioning that in the 2016 version of the Be Inspired Awards, granted by Bentley Systems since 2004, the Chacao project was awarded as the World's Best Engineering Work. The ceremony was held in London, of 300 projects, the finalists were 2 Chinese bridges and one from Chile, this being the first time that a Chilean initiative is awarded, usually the prizes are given to Megaprojects in Asia or Europe.

Some Interesting Facts

   We must remember that the South of Chile has an intricate geography and weather conditions are sometimes extreme, therefore the construction includes particular characteristics to face these difficulties, such as:

Chacao Bridge will withstand winds of more than 240 km/hour, strong sea currents, an earthquake of at least 9 degrees on the Richter scale (in 1960 this part of Chile endured the largest mega-earthquake recorded in history since records began).

The submarine mountain known as Roca Remolino (Whirlpool Rock), in the middle of the channel, will play a preponderant role in the construction of the Megaproject, because its resistance proved to be the most propitious place to place the central pillar of the viaduct. Without the rock formation, it probably would not have been possible to undertake the construction because of the high cost that it would have represented. Its name of Remolino, is precisely due to the current produced there with the change of the tides, in ancient times this underwater massif caused many shipwrecks and deaths. 

Southern Chile stands out for the number of places of great scenic beauty and tourism represents one of the main sources of income for the Region, the height of the Chacao Bridge of 59 meters  compared to the highest tide level, will allow the channel to be navigated at any time and by almost all ships, tourist and coastal trade. 

Ships over 55 meters in height should use alternative routes - such as Boca del Guafo - to access or leave the area, while those with heights between 50 and 55 meters should only wait for the most favorable tidal conditions for the crossing (Source: Revista de Marina). It is estimated that the lifetime of the bridge will be around 100 years.

According to the online newspaper La Opinion de Chiloe, the viaduct would cause savings for the  Archipelago of more than 800 million dollars for the next 45 years (without considering potential savings in tolls and ferry crossings) and would also come to complement projects such as the reactivation of the Quellon Megaport, with a profitability of around 500 billion Chilean Pesos for Chiloe and Aysen, among others.