New highway to slice driving time to Pacific by more than half

January 22, 2010

This week Costa Rica is set to unveil a long-awaited highway from San José to Caldera, which will cut the usual two-hour journey from the capital city to that central Pacific town down to as little as 45 minutes.

Planning for the highway began more than 30 years ago. Motorists can begin using it Wednesday, according to the Public Works and Transport Ministry (MOPT). The toll will be ¢ 2,000 ($3.58) total each way for cars.

However, MOPT Minister Marco Vargas said last week that he will not open the toll booth in Ciudad Colón unless authorities find it necessary. The statement came at a time in which drivers in Santa Ana and Ciudad Colón have objected to the ¢ 160 ($0.29) toll to travel between the two towns. The road authorities will increase the tolls at other booths to make up the revenue, according to MOPT.

The route cuts through mountain sides and includes 14 new bridges, unlike the current tortuous routes that climb steep mountainsides and weave around sharp bends.

The project was initially estimated to cost $100 million, but, after construction began, the price tag rose to more than $229 million.

The private company Autopistas del Sol will maintain and operate the highway under the concession granted by MOPT.

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