Chile's Route 68 highway linking the capital Santiago with the major port of Valparaiso 80km away is being upgraded. Sections of the route cross steep hills and tight, dangerous curves are being widened and extra traffic lanes added.
One notoriously dangerous section is being tackled by Spanish-based contractor EPSA (Excavaciones y Proyectos de Chile), one of several contracts it has been awarded on this project.
On the 1.9km stretch close to the small town of Melosilla, 30km from Valparaiso, the road is being widened from two lanes to four and a secondary road for local traffic is being added. Work includes an underpass for U-turns.
These improvements should allow the speed limit to be raised from 100km/h to 120km/h.
Work on this part of the project began in July 1999 and is due for completion this spring.
Excavation is being carried out either side of the highway to create the new lanes. The overburden is being transported by three Volvo A40 articulated haulers over a distance of about 2km to be deposited on the new road. It is then graded and compacted to form the sub-base.
Each of the trucks makes 45 trips a day carrying some 25m 3of material. At the end of the project the 6 x 6 wheel drive haulers will have moved around 220,000m 3of material.
In Chile, this type of hauler is generally associated with mining applications but EPSA says it has proved reliable and cost effective on this type of project.