San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

New highway to Pacific sees fatalities

Three motorists have died on the new San José-Caldera highway, less than one month after its inauguration on Jan. 27.

While drivers are quick to blame faulty construction, poor design and bad planning for the fatal crashes, authorities say that motorists´ disregard for the rules of the road is the primary cause of the accidents.

According to the Transit Police, most collisions along the new 77-kilometer toll way are the result of speeding. The road´s speed limit of 80 kilometers per hour is reduced around sharp curves. Transit officials said drivers don´t respect the reduction, thus the auto wrecks.

But motorists may be right about some issues. Some have complained about the size of the shoulder on the highway, which is too narrow for a car to pull entirely off the road and safely attend a problem with his or her vehicle.

On Monday this week, rainfall provoked landslides, causing large rocks to slam onto the freshly asphalted pavement. Autopistas del Sol, the private firm in charge of the highway´s maintenance, closed the road for two hours while crews cleaned up the debris.

Along some stretches, 90-degree rock walls line the route and some of the steep cliffs have been reinforced with concrete to prevent landslides. However, by opening day last month, some walls had already begun to crumble, with winds blowing jagged rocks onto the expressway. The shoulder lanes are half the width of a sedan (TT, Jan. 29).

Drivers have also complained about a poor lighting and lack of reflectors along the new highway.

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