US breaks ground on new embassy in Mexican capital

Shovels decorated with the colors of the Mexican and U.S. flags are lined up ahead of a groundbreaking ceremony for the new U.S. embassy, slated to cost nearly $1 billion, in Mexico City, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018. Work has begun on the long-awaited new embassy in Mexico City which is being built on a former industrial site that required extensive toxic cleanup and will be one of the most expensive U.S. embassies in the world.(AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Construction has begun on the long-awaited new United States embassy in Mexico City that will be one of the most expensive in the world at nearly $1 billion

MEXICO CITY — Work has begun on the long-awaited new United States Embassy in Mexico City that will be one of the most expensive in the world at nearly $1 billion.

The $943 million embassy is expected to be completed in 2022, when the U.S. will leave its current building on the Mexican capital's grand Paseo de la Reforma boulevard, which has been a regular site of marches and protests over the years.

U.S. Ambassador Roberta Jacobson and Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera participated in the ceremonial ground-breaking at the 8.5-acre (3.4-hectare) site in western Mexico City on Tuesday.

"Mexico is one of the United States' closest and most valued partners. We are neighbors with a deep history and a shared future," Jacobson said. "Today we celebrate the start of a building that will stand as a testament to both, celebrating our friendship and empowering our diplomacy in the years ahead."

Mexican Interior Secretary Alfonso Navarrete Prida echoed that sentiment, saying that the new embassy represented a "bridge of friendship."

The new embassy with an environment-friendly design will be on a former industrial site that required extensive toxic cleanup. The area known as New Polanco includes modern museums and other upscale projects developed by Carlos Slim, one of the world's wealthiest men, who also attended the event.

The construction contract was awarded to Alabama-based Caddell Construction in September 2017.

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