Baja California

Baja California peninsula celebrates 50 years with the prettiest highway in the world: Mexican Federal Highway 1

To celebrate the inauguration of Federal Highway 1, the federal government issued a call for artists

All highways in the world are built in sections and stages, and the same thing happens in Mexico, which is why, very few of them have an inauguration date. However, Carretera Federal México 1 (Mexican Federal Highway 1) does have one and it is very significant. It was on December 1, 1973. 1 was built on a 1.

Back then, the president of Mexico was Lic. Luis Echeverria Álvarez (who was president from December 1, 1970 to November 30, 1976) and when he was 3 years into his administration, he arrived with his team to parallel 28, the spot that historically has been the division between 2 states (Baja California and Baja California Sur), to lead a great act where the highway was united, as it had been built from north to south and from south to north. This day, the formal inauguration of this important road was made and it was named "Carretera Transpeninsular Benito Juárez."

To celebrate the inauguration of the "1", the federal government issued a national call for writers and sculptors to place a commemorative symbol in this event. The winners, of 56 contestants, were architects Edmundo Rodríguez Saldívar and Ángel Negrete González, who projected a great terrace or ceremonial plaza whose center has a giant stylized eagle, whose vertical wings represent the 2 peninsular Californias, united by the soul of the structure which is the motherland. This enormous 35-meter-tall monument can be seen from 5 kilometers away decorating this promise of progress.

Without a doubt, president Echeverria promoted with enthusiasm and budget the construction of this highway. I understand that he did so for several reasons: the first one was to keep one of his campaign promises, which was to finish this important infrastructure project in order to support the development of the people and communities in the entire peninsula; the second one was to achieve everyone's dreams and finally unite the state of Baja California with the then territory of Baja California Sur, leaving behind the isolation of half of a peninsula from the rest of the country; the third one was to lay the foundation so that Baja California Sur could became the 30th state of Mexico, which occurred in October 8, 1974.

We cannot not mention that during the government of Adolfo López Mateos and Gustavo Díaz Ordaz, presidents of Mexico from 1958 to 1964 and from 1964 to 1970 respectively, communication and transport in the southern part of this peninsula were modernized. On November 9, 1965, the maritime route arrived through a ferry from La Paz to Mazatlán. The most significant act was that the ICA corporation got the contract to build terraces, drainage projects, and the paving of the transpeninsular highway, which began in southern La Paz, Baja California Sur in September 1965, during the administration of Díaz Ordaz.

In a nutshell, ICA, back then the country's most important construction company, was the one that built the highway from Cabo San Lucas, B.C.S. to San Quintin, B.C., because the Tijuana-Ensenada road and the Ensenada-San Quintin already existed.

It should be noted that through its 1,711 kilometers, of which 713 km are in Baja California and 998 km are in Baja California Sur, there are several spots marked as Km 0, as that is how engineers identified the several different stages in which this road was built.

Our highway is known by several different names. The official one is “Carretera Transpeninsular Benito Juárez”, but it is technically Carretera Federal México 1, but it is most well known simply as “La 1”. Foreigners, such as Americans and Canadians, call it Mexican Highway 1.

All toll highways in Mexico have a "D" under the number of the road, which means that it is a direct or a toll road, which is why the Scenic Highway, which begins at Km 9.5 in Playas de Tijuana and ends at 99.4 l in the San Miguel bridge, municipality of Ensenada, has a "D" under the number 1. That's why some say that from Tijuana to Ensenada there are two "1" highways, the free one and the toll one.

It was President Gustavo Díaz Orda the one who inaugurated the Scenic Highway on April, 27, 1967 and since then its management was given to Federal Roads and Bridges and Related Services (CAPUFE). Driving through it is a journey that offers spectacular views along the coastal area of Baja California and in the afternoons, drivers can watch some very colorful sunsets. It is an engineering phenomenon, cut by hills, and over the San Andreas fault. That's why, it is considered one of the prettiest highways in the world.

The story of this road is long and interesting, and currently it is considered one of the three iconic highways that exist in the world. The first one is the famous Route 66 which begins in Chicago and ends in Santa Monica beach in California, which has been referenced in popular culture. The second one is the mythical Route 40 that goes through Argentina until it reaches Patagonia, and it is the one that Che Guevera traveled in. The third one is ours, Mexican Federal Highway 1.

All cities and all people in this peninsula feel proud about having highway "1”, as the meaning of this number represents leadership, strength, determination, beginnings, persistence, launch, etc., characteristics of the people of Baja California. Besides, everyone likes its logo.

Álvaro E. Montaño Rubio
Author of “Welcome to Tijuana”


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