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Kokopelli-az

Aug 19, 2009, 1:21 PM

Post #1 of 17 (9991 views)

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Best way to bypass (avoid) Monclova

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I will be driving from AZ to San Miguel de Allende and usually cross at Del Rio or Eagle Pass. I do not want to go through Monclova and am looking for routes to bypass that city, that would allow traveling from the border to San Miguel in one day.

I have seen the following route suggested and would like any opinions about it:

Cross at Eagle Pass and get on Hwy 2 East toward Nuevo Laredo. At or near Columbia Bridge there are signs to turn and go S toward Saltillo where you get back on Hwy 57 S.

Does this seem like a reasonable route for what I want to do? Or are there some better suggestions.... I would appreciate detailed directions, including estimated times/mileage for any route(s) suggested.

Also, I would consider crossing at the Columbia Bridge instead of Eagle Pass but it doesn't open until 8:00 AM and I want to be down the road earlier than that.

Maybe it would be easier just to go to Laredo and cross there ???

Thank you.



Altahabana


Aug 19, 2009, 4:09 PM

Post #2 of 17 (9969 views)

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Re: [Kokopelli-az] Best way to bypass (avoid) Monclova

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You would turn onto Highway 2 outside of Piedras and go to its the junction with Highway 1 which is about 2 miles west of the Columbia Bridge turnoff. This road merges with the Anahuac Highway--which is also Highway 1 about 10 miles north of Anahuac. You would then follow Highway 1 until it joins the periferico around Monterrey. You would take a right and the perifierico will merge with Highway 40 which will lead to back to Saltillo and Highway 57. That is about a 40 mile detour on inferior roads (Hwys 1 and 2) compared to driving straight from the border to Saltillo on 57.

My wife is from Monclova and we visit often. It is not an attractive place but it is probably one of the easiest cities to navigate through. Highway 57 runs straight through the city (Blvd. Pape) with no turns. Highway 57 from Piedras to Saltillo is one of the best maintained free highways I have driven in Mexico. I am sure you have a reason for avoiding Monclova, but as someone who drives the highways of Coahuila, Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon regularly they are not apparant to me.

I would drive from Eagle Pass to the Columbia cutoff on Texas 277/83 (although the Columbia Toll Road is now part of TxTag System) and cross there rather than cross at Piedras and drive essentially the same route on Mex. Hwy 2. It might be simpler just to drive on to Laredo and cross there at Bridge II. Again I can't imagine what there is about Monclova that would cause someone to drive so far out of their way to avoid it.


(This post was edited by Altahabana on Aug 20, 2009, 10:27 AM)


sioux4noff

Aug 20, 2009, 8:04 PM

Post #3 of 17 (9922 views)

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Re: [Altahabana] Best way to bypass (avoid) Monclova

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Quote
Highway 57 runs straight through the city (Blvd. Pape) with no turns.


We drove that way on our last trip south from Texas. We found it a fine route, but wondered if there was any type of periferico around the city.
Saved a chunk on tolls vs going by way of Monterrey, and aboided all that foul Monterrey air.


Altahabana


Aug 21, 2009, 7:12 AM

Post #4 of 17 (9899 views)

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Re: [sioux4noff] Best way to bypass (avoid) Monclova

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There is a route that circles Monclova to the west, but it is not designed as a loop for passenger traffic around the city. As you approach Monclova from the north on Hwy 57, you would take the exit called Libremento Carlos Salinas de Gotari. It is the turnoff for traffic going to Torreon on Hwy 30 and commercial truck traffic going to the numerous plants and maquilidoras that are located on the western outskirts of the city. It adds a few miles to the trip and will take longer than driving straight through Monclova.


In my opinion Highway 57 from Piedras to Saltillo is the obvious route for people who are coming from the West to the interior and a definite option for people going to the interior who will be travelling south on IH 35 from the north. As I mentioned Highway 57 is a free highway (with the exception of a 40 mile, less than 100 peso cuota from the Aduana checkpoint otside Allende to Nueva Rosita) and is in excellent condition. For people coming from the north on IH 35, Highway 57 is longer than going through Laredo/Nuevo Laredo or Columbia but as the previous poster points out it avoids Monterrey and the fairly stout cuotas.


Graydon

Aug 25, 2009, 12:40 PM

Post #5 of 17 (9843 views)

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Re: [Altahabana] Best way to bypass (avoid) Monclova

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Kokopelli.... I too hate going through Monclova, especially the by-pass around the city because of the corrupt transit police.
Last year we were stopped three times and threatened with impounding our motorhome if we didn't pay their asked for bribe.
About every half mile you see them sitting there just waiting for RVs.
We have never driven through the city but might consider it this year. Anything to avoid the Transit cops on the by-pass.
I have even written to the minister of tourism of Coahuila but haven't received any response.

When are you planning to travel? maybe we can tag along with each other.

Graydon


Altahabana


Aug 25, 2009, 4:32 PM

Post #6 of 17 (9827 views)

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Re: [Graydon] Best way to bypass (avoid) Monclova

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I understand that shakedowns are the reason the OP was looking for ways to avoid Monclova. It never occurred to me that people would use Libre. Carlos Salinas de Gotari (thetruck by-pass) to get from one end of Monclova to another, but you learn something everyday. I guess that is a route that is recommended by word of mouth or on ex-pat forums, because it would never occur to a Mexican motorist or someone who drives 57 regularly to use it for that purpose. Salinas de Gotari is the first exit to Highway 30, the highway to Torreon, and the route for commercial traffic going to the plants and maquiladoras that ring the western edge of the city. It is actually a much longer drive than simply going straight through town on 57. It is also relatively isolated and lightly traveled in comparison to Blvd. Pape/Hwy.57.

It is also quite possible that the cops who are doing the shakedowns are from Frontera, a separate incorporated town, since most of Salinas de Gotari is in Frontera not Monclova. As I told amiga Kokopelli privately, I would find it very surprising if Monclova cops on Blvd. Pape/Hwy.57 would engage in open shakedowns. If someone drives straight through and does not take the long detour loop on what is being called the truck by-pass, you do not pass through Frontera.

I know many people who work in the transportation industry and industrial sales whose territory covers Coahuila and Nuevo Leon and Monclova does not have a bad reputation. I know people who have had problems with questionable traffic stops in Torreon and Ramos Arizpe, but I have never heard anyone (who travels for business at least) complain about Monclova. There are rogue cops everywhere and no doubt some do profile. That sounds like what happened in this case and being out in a relatively isolated area might make a gringo a tempting and easy target.


Graydon

Aug 25, 2009, 5:44 PM

Post #7 of 17 (9819 views)

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Re: [Altahabana] Best way to bypass (avoid) Monclova

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Altahabana... The reason why RVers take the by-pass is that they find it easier than taking a large motorhome with a tow vehicle through city streets.
Although the by-pass may not be completely in Monclova, we've been stopped by transit police near both ends and in the middle. Its hard to tell just exactly who the transit police are as they make it a point to hide or not wear their badges. I personally know several RVers who have been stopped on the by-pass and I was recently talking to Terri Church (of Mike and Terri Church fame) about their experiece on being stopped on the by-pass. They chose to fight the ticket and followed the transit cops to the Monclova police dept.
Perhaps if you're familiar with people in the transportation industry you could find a name and phone number of a high ranking official in the Monclova police dept would be willing to intervene on an RVer's part if they get stopped for a shake-down.
We'll be traveling down highway 57 in November and maybe I'll take your advice and drive through the city if you think that would be a better way to go.

Graydon


esperanza

Aug 25, 2009, 6:58 PM

Post #8 of 17 (9806 views)

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Re: [Altahabana] Best way to bypass (avoid) Monclova

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...It never occurred to me that people would use Libre. Carlos Salinas de Gotari (the truck by-pass) to get from one end of Monclova to another, but you learn something everyday...

With a name like that for the libramiento, I'd expect shakedowns.

http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com









Altahabana


Aug 26, 2009, 5:07 AM

Post #9 of 17 (9786 views)

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Re: [Graydon] Best way to bypass (avoid) Monclova

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I wasn't questioning anyone's anecdotes. I was simply offering an opinion about Monclova and shakedowns and the basis for my opinion. I am not a gringo driving a large motorhome with a tow vehicle, but I am a gringo driving a US plated vehicle who is in and around Monclova a couple of days each month. I have been stopped for speeding in Monclova and paid the reduced fine on the spot, but that has happened to me in several other places in Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon and Coahuila. I have also been stopped (radar) and let off with warnings by local cops and Coahuila state police on two separate occasions.

I would recommend driving straight through Monclova on Hwy 57 even with a motorhome and tow vehicle. It is not as lightly travelled as the Libre, but Hwy 57 (which is Blvd. Pape within the city limits) is not what I consider driving on city streets. It is certainly a shorter and more direct route than looping around the western outskirts of the metro area.

I was referring to US citizens who do business in Mexico and travel regularly in the Mexican border states ( myself included) when I mentioned the transportation industry. But these are the two top officials in the Monclova municipal police department if you are really interested in trying to contact someone.

Bretón Echeverría Vitali Director (866) 632-2211
Roberto de la Fuente Protección Civil (866) 632-9438



Graydon

Aug 26, 2009, 4:18 PM

Post #10 of 17 (9757 views)

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Re: [Altahabana] Best way to bypass (avoid) Monclova

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Altahabana....Thanks for the names and phone numbers. I hope this season's trip through Monclova is uneventful.

Graydon


Altahabana


Aug 26, 2009, 4:49 PM

Post #11 of 17 (9749 views)

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Re: [Graydon] Best way to bypass (avoid) Monclova

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It was my pleasure. I know I was overly defensive at times, but until these recent threads I have never heard anyone complain about Monclova cops, other than partying teens who cruise up and down Blvd. Pape on Friday and Saturday nights. I don't recall seeing anyone on Mexican travel boards mention problems either. Again if you just drive straight through on Pape/57 I don't think you will have any problems.


kathleen1

Oct 3, 2009, 7:16 AM

Post #12 of 17 (9536 views)

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Re: [Altahabana] Best way to bypass (avoid) Monclova

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I know I'm a month behind on this thread, but we get stopped and bribed every time we go near Monclova and are trying desperately to either avoid it or find a travel buddy so the cops won't bother us in a group ( I hope). They sit in waiting for the RVers and threatened us with a very large fine the last time, scared me to death. So for all of you unaware of that trap, it's real and obviously still going on. Anybody interested in a travel buddy through that area please reply. Thanks


Altahabana


Oct 3, 2009, 8:33 AM

Post #13 of 17 (9530 views)

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Re: [kathleen1] Best way to bypass (avoid) Monclova

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I could not find any information on the internet about harrassment of foreign drivers outside of this forum, but I did find this post from last November on this forum by AZHEAT.

"The GPS worked like a champ. We were worried about
going through Monclova because of all the problems
there with "shake downs" for US drivers on the bypass.

Our solution was to drive straight through town, which
wasn't bad. The GPS got us through without a problem."


From what people are posting it seems the problems are occurring on the Libre which circles the western edge of the area and most involve RVs. Very little of the Libre is in Monclova---most is in Frontera the neighboring city. I realize that people are making a general reference when they say Monclova, but Frontera and Monclova are independent cities and operate separate police forces. I mention this because Highway 57 which goes directly through Monclova does not involve driving through Frontera. The Libre is also about twice the distance as a direct drive through Monclova. Even in an RV the direct route should not be difficult. Again I would recommend going straight through town as the poster I quoted did.


It is difficult to avoid Monclova because Piedras/Acuna are the only practical crossing points between El Paso and Laredo. There is a lot of extra driving involved in bypassing Monclova by going to Laredo and driving to Saltillo through Monterrey. But whatever reputation Monclova may have in ex-pat travel circles, it does not considered a place to avoid by other types of travelers as far as I know.





(This post was edited by Altahabana on Oct 3, 2009, 8:52 AM)


chinagringo


Oct 3, 2009, 7:01 PM

Post #14 of 17 (9495 views)

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Re: [Kokopelli-az] Best way to bypass (avoid) Monclova

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While I may be able to understand not wanting to cross at Nogales and then face the drive to SMA - I don't understand driving all the way to Texas to cross. Granted we are partial to crossing at Santa Teresa, NM given our starting point in Albuquerque. Our latest drill is driving to Chihuahua the first day about 520 miles and staying at the Hampton Inn. Then to Zacatecas the second day and it is well worth staying in "Centro" Zacatecas - a truly beautiful colonial city. Then it would be an easy days drive to SMA from there!
Regards,
Neil
Albuquerque, NM



Zarcero

Oct 11, 2009, 8:56 PM

Post #15 of 17 (9397 views)

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Re: [Kokopelli-az] Best way to bypass (avoid) Monclova

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Great forum! New guy here. I would avoid MEX 2 from PN to NL. I have been advised this by locals, both residents and officials. You especially do not want to be on that road at night.

I don't understand the reluctance to ride through Monclova. MEX 57 takes you straight through town. I have had no problems riding through there on my motorcycle (from Houston and crossing at CdA or PN). In fact at a stop light I even asked the local police to pull over one time and give me directions after I took a wrong turn and needed to find my way out of Monclova-Ciudad Frontera to get on the right road to Cuatro Cienegas. They complied, were very polite and gave me excellent directions. No problems with anybody else for that matter.

Monclova is also a great place to stop for a bite to eat ==> Try Los Corrales. Just stay on 57 all the way through town. You will come to a large intesection that is Harold Pape (57) & Francisco Madero. You will know you are there by the signage and the large fire station on your right (the southwest corner). Continue on through that intersection for a few blocks more and you will see that 57 elevates, instead of taking the elevated road, stay to the right, Los Corrales is right there. Here I am with some Mexican friends after having breakfast at Los Corrales. That's 57 in the background. No I am not short, Antonio is standing up on the curb so he can look taller than me and his brother <smile>.


In addition, Monlcova has an interesting history. Harold Pape was an American steel magnate that helped get the steel industry in Monclova stared. They also have a good baseball team there called the Acereros (Steelers). I will need to spend more time in Monclova on one of my later trips and hopefully catch a baseball game.

If you don't have a Guia Roji map book, get one. You can order it through Amazon. Don't order the one that has the tourist info, you want the 100% maps book. The maps are great for detail and cover just about everything you need for the country. You can also get detailed city and single state maps from Guia Roji.

Enjoy your adventure!

Mike


(This post was edited by Zarcero on Oct 11, 2009, 9:13 PM)


Zarcero

Oct 13, 2009, 11:15 AM

Post #16 of 17 (9321 views)

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Re: [Zarcero] Best way to bypass (avoid) Monclova

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Just as a sidebar to this, I do find these bribe/crime/extortion discussions interesting. They seem to excite some passions in the internet community. In a quick look at other expat/traveler type sites, I see that threads get locked on these subjects even though the discussion appears to be civil. Not sure what's up with that. Even the Wal-Mex pick-pocket thread in the other section seems to excite some passions.

In any case, these issues are best solved with what I call the personal risk management approach to traveling and living. So, what is a solution for one person, may not be the same solution for another person. So the solution for Kokopelli-az may be the best solution for her, while my solution would be different based on me.

In mid-August of this year, there was an attempted assassination on the chief of police in Monclova. He survived the attack but three of his body guards were killed. He was an outsider (retired army general) brought into to battle corruption but mostly the narco-trafficking.

In my few instances in dealing with corruption in Latin America, I have chosen the route that reports the transgressions and ensures that follow-up action is taken, of which I have only experienced two incidents over several decades. One involved baggage theft in the airport in Montevideo, Uruguay, the other a bribery business case in Mexico City. In both cases the perpetrators were sorry they ever ran into me, as I did make life a hassle for them after the events. I can only suggest reporting these things to the authorites, and using your own risk management standards for your particular incident and your particular set of skills.

I do a lot of work in Angola and Nigeria, Latin America I find relatively easy on the corruption scale.

Saludos,

Mike


Altahabana


Oct 14, 2009, 6:02 AM

Post #17 of 17 (9278 views)

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Re: [Zarcero] Best way to bypass (avoid) Monclova

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So, what is a solution for one person, may not be the same solution for another person.


I think that is especially true for ex-pats when they decide what routes to take to get from the border to the Lake Chapala and San Miguel Allende residental areas. Other readers may offer a different perspective, provide more information or suggest alternatives, but in the end the traveler is going to do what makes them feel more comfortable, or avoid what makes them uncomfortable or anxious.

My experiences with Monclova are admittedly not as a norteamericano in transit, but your first post mirrors my experience with the city. And while all the reassurances or explanations probably won't impact the route choice of the OP or others who have contributed, objectively there is no reason for other travelers to take a long loop around through Laredo/Nuevo Laredo just to avoid the city. Again I believe the problems are with the Cuidad Frontera police on the Libre which circles the city. I haven't read anyone describe problems in Monclova itself on Highway 57/Blvd. Pape, which is the direct route through Monclova taken by nearly all other travelers. I have driven this road hundreds of times in the last five years and I have never seen speed traps. The only heavy traffic police presence is on Friday and Saturday nights when Pape resembles a scene from the movie American Graffiti and the younger set cruises up and down.
 
 
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