What Happened to the Coastal Road?

March 30, 2007

One of the greatest pie-in-the-sky promises in the Pacific coast real estate market during the past several years has been the coastal road, or Carretera Costanera, which would link Nicaragua’s southern Pacific coast to Costa Rica and have a booming effect on nearby property prices.

According to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s (MTI) original timeframe as of January 2005, when the project officially entered the nine-month developing and planning state, construction on the 131-kilometer coastal road was scheduled to start in 2006, with a two-lane tourism highway completed and opened by 2008 (NT, Feb. 4, 2005).

But two years later, everyone is still sitting around and talking about it.

In a meeting earlier this month with the Nicaraguan Association of Investors and Developers, Mario Salinas, president of the Nicaraguan Tourism Institute (INTUR), admitted that it is “going to be very difficult to finance” the coastal road.

He said the government is studying ways to get private donations to help build the road, and said construction could start in 2009.

The Nica Times tried several times to reach the MTI for comment in recent weeks, and was told they were “still seeking authorization” to answer questions about when construction on the road would start or finish.

Those who are dubious the project will ever be christened have history to justify their doubt.

Nicaragua first started studying the prospect of constructing the Pacific coast highway in the 1940s, as the original proposed route for the

Inter-American Highway

. It was judged infeasible, and the current route was chosen, paralleling the western shore of Lake Nicaragua. Since then, technology has improved and motives have changed.

In 2002, the coastal road project was again thawed and brought back to life; this time for tourism purposes.

The major tourism developments on the Pacific coast attract more than 646,000 tourists annually, justifying a tourism highway to connect the dots, according to the government.

The coastal road will have to bypass two nature reserves and the exact route is still to be determined.

 

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