San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Public Infrastructure

Construction to begin soon to curb heavy traffic on Circunvalación beltway

President Luis Guillermo Solís took a tour Wednesday of construction projects around the San José metro area designed to ease the capital’s ever-worsening traffic problems. The projects include lane expansions, under- and overpasses and bridges.

The Public Works and Transport Ministry (MOPT) said $207 million is being invested in projects to improve circulation along the capital beltway known as the Circunvalación.

The largest project is the construction of the northern and final stretch of the beltway, which will require an investment of $147 million. In preparation for the work, MOPT crews began evicting squatters last month on 103 state-owned properties.

MOPT officials say construction will begin later this year and is estimated to last 18 months.

Public Works and Transport Minister Carlos Villalta said the improvements are long overdue and the consequences are visible with daily traffic jams delaying people for hours.

A survey released in August by polling firm CID-Gallup found that commuters in the country’s Central Valley spent an average of 99 minutes daily fighting traffic between home and work or school.

Improving roundabouts

The government plans to invest $60 million to construct underpasses at the Zapote and San Pedro roundabouts and at the Guadalupe intersection, which will again have a roundabout.

Overpasses will be built on the Circunvalación in San Pedro, La Uruca and on Route 32, the main highway connecting the capital with the Caribbean province of Limón. Construction on these projects is scheduled to start in January, minister Villalta said Wednesday.

See an animated video of the planned Circunvalación expansion:

La Platina: “Save the country’s honor”

President Luis Guillermo Solís also visited the infamous bridge over the Virilla River on Route 1, known as “La Platina,” on Wednesday.

Problems with a section of the metal mesh on the bridge earned it its nickname in 2008. Officials from three separate administrations, including Solís’ administration, have made attempts to repair the structure — at a total cost of some $13 million, according to the National Roadway Council.

Solís said he intends to “save the country’s honor” by completing repair work on the bridge in February as he publicly promised earlier this year. The project involves expanding passage over the bridge from four to six lanes.

The bridge is on the General Cañas Highway, the main route connecting the capital with the province of Alajuela — including the Juan Santamaría International Airport — and Costa Rica’s northern and Pacific regions.

Currently, workers are reinforcing the bridge’s structure and building the foundations for the new lanes. MOPT plans to start work on the bridge’s surface in October.

Contact L. Arias at

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Ken Morris

Unfortunately, after glancing at the plans, I immediately concluded that these supposed improvements should be stopped in their tracks.

The problem with them is that they are extremely inhospitable to pedestrians and bicyclists, when in the long run encouraging walking and cycling through smart transportation planning is the only way to address the country’s traffic problems.

Leave it to MOPT, though, to build only for motor vehicles and then wonder why it has traffic problems. What MOPT doesn’t realize is that it creates these problems by what it builds.

Come on, there are actually ways to build for a transportation mix. MOPT just doesn’t understand them.

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