Joining the capital of Santa Fe with Paraná, its twin city in Entre Ríos, the Subfluvial Tunnel turns both cities into a unique and attractive tourist area.
Our trip began at the waterfront in the City of Santa Fe. After leaving the emblematic swing bridge and the Eastern shore of the Setúbal Lagoon behind, we took National Route 168 in the direction of the neighboring Province of Entre Ríos.
A Water Chute
As we approached the river, the road featured a soft slope downwards towards a kind of cavity with higher and higher walls. After a bend on the road, the entrance to the tunnel appeared before us. The journey to the bottom of the river was close.
The signs located at the access indicated not to overcome other cars and to respect maximum speed limits. Traffic lights went green. We continued advancing and daylight was left behind. The motorway got deep into the long and well-lighted tube of concrete.
As the pavement ran under the wheels of our vehicle, we noticed that the slope disappeared. We must have been on the river bed. Cars and trucks crossed our way on the opposite lane. It was incredible to think we were thirty meters under the waters of the Paraná River.
A fascinating journey
The toll barrier and the vehicle height control
Construction of tubes, 1968
The slope upwards started soon and after a few minutes we noticed the sunlight at the end of the road. The tunnel mouth became wider and a shred of clouds unveiled that we were going up onto solid ground. We covered the almost two and a half kilometers that separate the shores of both provinces in just five minutes.
Once at the facilities on the Paraná jurisdiction, a guide told us how the 37 cylinders of concrete that make up the tunnel measuring 65 per 11 meters each and 4,500 tons of weight were assembled. He showed us pictures of how they were towed, floating on the water up to the point where they were sunk and assembled with the aid of SCUBA divers.
May the Provinces Be United
In addition to the ambitious achievement of its construction, the safety of the tunnel represents a constant challenge and therefore all the safety devices, such as a closed TV circuit, communications systems, systems of air renovation, fire detection and leaks, to name a few, are coordinated in the control room.
The construction took eight years cost almost 60 million dollars. It fulfilled the dream of integrating the land communication ways between the Provinces of Entre Ríos and Santa Fe, geographically isolated by the plentiful waters of the Paraná River.
When we started our way back, we remembered with joy what the guide had told us: “fifty years ago, crossing the river by ferry took more than one hour; now, with the tunnel, it takes just five minutes”.
Pablo Etchevers Gentileza Tunelsubfluvial.gov.ar
Contact of the excursion or tour
Sede: Av. Uranga 3208 - Paraná (3000) Santa Fe, Santa Fe
Tel: +54 343-4200400
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