One of the biggest infrastructure problems in Chile has been reaching isolated towns in the deep south. Now that Douglass Tompkins is dead and his lands are passing to the Chilean government, it will be more feasible to put a highway through from Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales.
There are already stretches of paved road along the trajectory, but there are far more stretches that still have gravel and far more that are not built at all. There are so many islands and impediments due to the massive ice and glacial presence along the way that construction will be formidable. Many bridges will be needed and it looks as if, at least under the current proposal, ferries will not be eliminated. Some places along the long route, Ruta 7, will still need to have them.
According to an article in El Mercurio, Sunday, February 14, 2016 (page C7), the total route length will be 1,170 kilometers and will feature 269 bridges, connecting 120,000 Chileans in the southern 10th Region and 11th Region to the rest of the country. These people often live without dentists and regular medical care, not to mention most of the comforts of life commonplace in Santiago and Viña del Mar, as well as Concepción and La Serena.
Electricity is not a given, nor is a variety of food and shelter. I consider many of them to be true pioneers living on the frontier, with many self-sufficiency skills. Other than tourism and some fishing or forestry, there are few industry, farming or employment possibilities in much of this vast stretch of land.
Life is cheap, and simple, other than when one has to buy shipped-in goods. For some self-sufficient newcomers that do not mind cold and rain, and that love natural beauty, it might be a good possible spot for relocation. This fact is especially true now that the government will be working on finishing the road, giving access to medical care, pharmacies, trucks to bring goods, etc.
It will also be a wonderful and spectacular drive once finished. Chileans driving south at present have to drive most of the route through to Puerto Natales via Argentina. The road will be expensive but I think it will be a long term boon to Chile and provide many more opportunities to exploit and develop natural resources and make Chile more prosperous.
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