The IADB announced on 12 December 2016 that it will provide funding in the form of two loans worth a combined US$40 million for the construction of the Agua Negra Bridge that will link San Juan province in Argentina with Coquimbo in Chile. The announcement will enable the Argentine and Chilean governments to launch the tendering process for the tunnel's construction. Total estimated construction costs are projected at US$1.5 billion, with an estimated construction time of 8.5 years. (BioBio). Chilean government officials argued the tunnel constitutes a vital step forward in Chilean-Argentine economic integration, and will also contribute to deepening integration between Mercosur countries. The tunnel could eventually become part of a transport link that will connect the Atlantic with the Pacific, from Porto Alegre in Brazil to Coquimbo in Chile. Chilean Minister of Public Works, Alberto Undurraga, expects to conduct a tendering procedure to select a contractor in the first half of 2017 for construction work to begin in early 2018 (Diario Financiero).