San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

One Highway UnderWay, Delays Could Stall Another

CONSTRUCTION officially beganlast week on the long-awaited, 30-kilometerhighway to the Northern Zone’s largestcity, Ciudad Quesada, a project more than30 years in the making. The work orderwas given Tuesday during a ceremonyattended by government representativesand Taiwanese diplomats.Construction is expected to take fouryears because of the heavy rains in theregion. RSEA Engineering Corporation,the Taiwanese firm that also built thebridge over the Tempisque River, in thenorthwestern province of Guanacaste, isin charge of the project.The $62 million effort will be fundedthrough a $15 million donation and a $35million low-interest loan from Taiwan, aswell as $12 million from Costa Rica’sNational Roadway Council (TT, Feb. 6,2004).The highway, first proposed in the1960s, will connect the Inter-AmericanHighway at San Ramón, west of San José,to Ciudad Quesada.Meanwhile, the government is racingto make necessary land expropriations sothat a separate highway project betweenSan José and San Ramón can start on timein May 2006.More than 200 expropriations are stillnecessary for the project, which wouldreduce travel time between the cities from90 to 45 minutes, as well as cut traveltime between San José and Alajuela from35 to 15 minutes, the daily La Naciónreported.If the land is not expropriated in time,the government could face legal troublesfrom Autopistas del Valle, the consortiumthat has been given the concession for thework. Autopistas took over the projectearlier this year after the original concessionaireleft because of delays in expropriations.The consortium will fund theproject and recover its costs through tolls.The National Concessions Council(CNC) has rejected improving and wideningthe 158-kilometer highway betweenSan José and Limón through a similarconcession-backed finance structure, LaNación reported.

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