San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Southern Zone Highway To Be Finished by 2006

The Public Works and Transport Ministry (MOPT) expects to complete the last remaining stretch of the

Costanera Sur Highway

, which will connect the central Pacific coast city of Quepos to Playa Dominical in the Southern Zone, by December 2006, the daily La Nación reported.

Local residents, many of whom have been waiting 40 years for a paved highway connecting the Southern Zone to Quepos and the rest of the country, are optimistic, but still have doubts the project will be completed on deadline.

MOPT estimated it will cost approximately $1 million to build each of the highway’s remaining 40 kilometers. The high cost is the result of the additional work the highway will require.

According to Carlos Acosta, chief engineer of the project, the highway will be raised and drains will be constructed on its sides to protect it from flooding.

Four layers of rock, stabilizing mixture and asphalt will be placed on the highway’s surface to ensure it stands the test of time.

The project will be financed through a $60 million loan from the Central America Economic Integration Bank (BCIE).

Once completed, Costanera Sur will serve as the country’s main connection to Panama. The highway is part of Mexican President Vicente Fox’s controversial Puebla-Panama Plan, which aims to create a highway between Panama and Southern Mexico.

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