October 11, 2018 / 5:39 PM / in a month

Incoming Mexico government to hold 4-day poll on new airport

MEXICO CITY, Oct 11 (Reuters) - Mexico’s incoming government will hold a four-day public consultation to decide the fate of the capital’s new airport and will upgrade current facilities to ease congestion, a key member of the next Cabinet said on Thursday.

Incoming transport minister Javier Jimenez Espriu said the public would be polled from Oct. 25 to Oct. 28 on whether to finish an ambitious new Mexico City airport or scrap it and upgrade a military air base to complement the existing hub.

Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who takes office on Dec. 1, was highly critical of the new airport during his campaign for the top job, arguing it was tainted by corruption and would be more costly than projected.

Jimenez said the airport, which has been under construction on the drained bed of Lake Texcoco on the eastern flank of Mexico City since 2015, was over budget and behind schedule.

He said the Texcoco airport was now projected to cost 285 billion pesos ($15.03 billion) compared with an original estimate of 195 billion pesos. The airport had been due to be completed during 2022, but Jimenez said it would likely take until 2024.

The consultation will be held in over 500 municipalities covering about 80 percent of Mexico’s population, Jimenez said.

Irrespective of the results of the survey, Jimenez said the delay in construction meant “major surgery” was required at the current airport in order to ease stretched capacity limits.

The government would therefore invest up to 5 billion pesos to upgrade the current Mexico City airport and expand an international airport in the city of Toluca in the State of Mexico, about 34 miles from the capital, he added. ($1 = 18.9680 Mexican pesos) (Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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