Nearly half a century after the original proposal to build a paved highway down the Pacific coast was presented, the project is still incomplete.
On the ocean, what will be the biggest marina in Costa Rica is also under way after a great deal of work by a dedicated sportfisherman, and could bring about big changes and big business to the Quepos area.
To say the least, the infrastructure that has so long been promised with the Costanera Sur highway along the central to southern Pacific coast is far overdue. For years, state highways were no more than dirt and gravel. Bridges were only wide enough to allow traffic to move in one direction at any point in time, causing massive lines to form on each side.
This is still the case in some areas, but these are now few and far between. On the southern edge of Parrita, a little more than halfway between Jacó and Quepos, a twolane bridge is nearing completion. Work is progressing, but traffic is often still stalled for upwards of 20 minutes; locals take full advantage by walking up and down the long line of cars selling melons and water to the idling motorists, and the ambitious leave the driver in the car and take the time to go shopping at the Megasuper grocery store.
The roads are paved and the path is open and flowing with the aggressive energy of penned dogs that have just been released, ready to take advantage of the freedom they’ve just been given. Blacktop has been placed all the way to the Río Naranjo, just south of Quepos, and the foundations for pavement have been laid south of there.
A recent report by the Comptroller General’s Office classified construction on the Costanera Sur highway as experiencing “significant delays,” according to the daily La Nación.
The report stated that 18 percent of the land needed to complete the project has yet to be expropriated by the state. Despite such reports, the Public Works and Transportation Ministry (MOPT) said the entire project would be finished by December, the daily reported.
Of the 222-kilometer project linking the Pacific port city of Puntarenas with Palmar Sur in the Southern Zone, 42 kilometers between Quepos and Dominical are still incomplete. While La Nación reported that 20 kilometers of that stretch have been covered with a first layer of asphalt, the other 22 kilometers have yet to be paved.
Most of the single-lane, wood and steel rail bridges spanning the area’s rivers are being replaced by wider versions, though few of these have actually been opened to allow traffic to flow freely, so far.
Along the highway south of Esterillos, signs are almost nonexistent, and a lack of paint and reflectors makes driving at night difficult.
Marina Steams Ahead
In Quepos, the Marina Pez Vela is taking shape, after nearly a decade of pushing the private initiative. With a perimeter of close to two kilometers, the marina could very well become a hot spot for those looking to move their boats off the choppy coastal waters of the Pacific, said the marina’s developer, Harold Lovelady.
Construction is well under way, with the skeleton of the structure already built. The marina’s outer breakwater absorbs and distributes the crashing waves of the strong Pacific swell.
“The power of a swell here is enormous, so we realized we needed a very big breakwater,” Lovelady said.
The marina will also be equipped with the first boatyard south of the U.S. city of San Diego able to take on and fix the multimillion-dollar boats that are attracted by the fishing here, Lovelady said. A 200-ton boat lift and North American mechanics will be on hand to work on the boats, while Costa Ricans will be hired on in an apprenticeship program.
“The area we’re advertising is the best sportfishing – well, really, the best fishing – spot on the planet,” he said. “Especially when you’re talking about big fish.”
When it opens – by this December, Lovelady said – the marina will have 303 slips for boats of varying sizes and a 600-foot fuel dock. In addition, shops, condos and hotels will be built for the “ultra-wealthy” boat owners the marina will attract, Lovelady said.