Durango to Mazatlán, MX - via MX 40D

Wow, what a trip. We wanted to go and take a look at the world famous Baluarte Suspension Bridge. We had, in years past, driven the old route when coming to Mazatlán from New Mexico. Traveling though El Paso, Chihuahua, Torreón, Durango and then down the hill to Mazatlán. The scenery from Albuquerque to Torreón is high plateau desert, just like much of New Mexico; so our preference over the years has been to travel the Coastal Route from Nogales, AZ to Mazatlán. We like the change of scenery.

When we drove the Durango route to Mazatlán, it was a 9 hour drive covering the 150 miles down the mountain, winding curve to another winding curve to another winding curve. This repeated itsself every mile. And of course there was that impatient driver, just behind, us wanting to pass seeking that opportunity of becoming a hood ornament on the radiator of a KW Truck coming up the mountain.

Mexico completed this new Highway MX 40D in October of 2013 and the big attraction is the Balurate Suspension Bridge, which of 3,600 feet in length, spanning the Baluarte River the border between the States of Durango and Sinaloa. The depth between the bridge and the river is 1,300 feet. Making the Balurate Suspension Bridge the highest suspension bridge in the world. We had never availed ourselves of the opportunity to visit this famous bridge, and so we prevailed on our friend Elias Lizarraga to drive us to take a look. Little did we realize what a WOW EXPERIENCE! we were about to be treated to. The first impact of this adventure began when we came to our first tunnel.

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Tunnels? What Tunnels?

I hadn't even imagined tunnels in connection with this side trip to see the famous Baluarte Suspension Bridge. However this short tunnel was an impressive but not really a big deal, that was until we exited the tunnel crossing a short bridge before entering yet another tunnel.

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Then we crossed another bridge or two and bingo we were at our third tunnel.

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But when we remembered the winding, winding, winding road on the 9 hour drive, we thought of the severe terrain of the Sierra Madre Mountains; and so the tunnels and the bridges we began to penetrate had much more meaning.

By the way, the drive is now just 3 1/2 hours. This highway is making a tremendous economical impact on Mazatlan. Now those from the center of Mexico wanting to vacation on the sea coast have an option that is affordable and an easy drive. They are taking advantage of the opportunity, and the tourist business in Mazatlan is rapidly growing.

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You'll note the old highway in the upper right corner of this photograph.

What another tunnel? Yep! There are 63 tunnels in this 150 mile stretch of road way. The total length of the tunnels is 11 miles. Yes, 11 miles of tunnels, and after each tunnel there must be another bridge to get you across the canyon to the next tunnel. There are 113 bridges on this project.

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I took this shot from thorough the windshield of our van, just to share with you the concept of one tunnel being followed by a bridge and then another tunnel.

Art Anstine, and Larry Bennett were with Dottie and I on this trip, and being we all three are Engineers I asked them the old question of:

"Which Came First the Tunnel or the Bridge".

 

If you like, you too, can contemplate your navel over that one!

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We drove over the Baluarte Suspension Bridge to where Elias could find a turn around point, and in coming back to the Baluarte there was this Truck Run Away Ramp and that gave us a place to park. I walked to the top of this ramp, where I found a view point to catch a few photos of the Bridge.

But also note that they also had to build a concrete retaining structure to even get a run away ramp. When you see the following bridge photos, you'll see why they had to protect the bridge an other traffic from the hazard of a rogue run away truck.

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Now look at the concrete retaining wall they had to construct just make room to place the road bed. Note also that at the bridge the highway takes a 90 degree turn in order to cross perpendicular to tge canyon walls.

Slow down Truck and just creep across this special bridge of ours!

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The small structures on the right at the approach to the bridge are quick food service booths, and restrooms for the 'Look See' tourist, like me. We appreciated a spot to park and take photographs. These locations are rather sparse as the road bed shoulders are not wide enough to allow scenic parking.

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Friends behold the Balurate Suspension Bridge, the Worlds Highest. 3,600 feet in length and 1,300 feet above the Baluarte River. It is an awesome structure, and this is a must trip for anyone vacationing in Mazatlán.

Dottie, Larry Bennett and Elias Lizarraga

Bennett is a retired Electrical Engineer from UNM and is one strong hombre. But even being a Lobo Letterman it still took both hands!

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Windshield photos are never the best, but in traffic one takes what one can get!

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Another through the windshield, and this secondary bridge lets you grasp the difficulty of the construction and the marvelous engineering on this project.

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My career has been in the contracting and construction business, and over these years I've come to admire several great accomplishments in highway construction. The Million Dollar Highway from Durango to Silverton in Colorado; the Rio Grande Bridge, built by Jim Ryan, over the Rio Grande Gouge near Taos, and a highway or two in the Swiss Alps, but this Durango ~ Mazatlán project in Mexico holds First Place in my book as a construction marvels.

A Salute to the Engineers, the Contractors, and especially to the skilled craftsmen who built this marvel.

 

INumero Uno! and next year I'm returning just to take photographs, and too, I'll wait for a clear day. So expect me to come back or at least add to this log.

And now as we do in New Mexico, when we pass .......................... I'll wave.

ADIOUS ~ Amigos

 

Remember to wisely use your QTR!

QTR - Quality Time Remaining

 

 

Come on Willie sing us another verse, and we’ll move on down the road.