By: Federico Fernández
Funds for these projects are secured from a loan with the IDB (Interamerican Development Bank). They represent an investment of over USD$182.5 million.
Travelling between our beautiful coastal area and the Central Valley is frequently a necessity for us residents and visitors. Whilst heading to San Jose from Tamarindo, we basically have three options:
- The first one, to drive first north to the city of Liberia and take there the Inter-American Highway (Route #1) down south,
- The second one to drive down the peninsula towards the city of Nicoya, take later a left, cross the bridge over the Tempisque river and eventually hit the Inter-American Highway (Route 1), or
- The third one, drive further down the peninsula and take a ferry boat either at Playa Naranjo or Paquera, crossing the Gulf of Nicoya towards the port city of Puntarenas.
Such a journey could take slightly less than four hours if you drive at night or with little traffic, or up to 6 hours if you take it easy or run into heavy traffic.
In any case, current improvements in infrastructure will reduce the time that trip takes in up to one hour. In the past month of June, the Central Government signed the contract with the consortium that will oversee the expansion of the 50 kilometers between Limonal in Guanacaste and Barranca in Puntarenas.
This is part of Route #1 in the northern Inter American Highway. It is currently the narrow two-lane strip, with a lot of tree shade, old bridges, and few chances to overtake on slow moving vehicles and dozens of trucks that come from the Nicaraguan border.
Work on this will start any time now. It includes turning the route to four lanes all along, building five crossings that will grant access to neighboring communities without breaking the continuity of the highway, fixing up or building new bridges over the eleven rivers or creeks along the way, sixteen pedestrian crossings and thirty nine animal crossings, eighteen of them through the tree canopy and twenty one underground.
Work on this should start any moment now. The contract demands its conclusion in thirty months or less.
Considering that the road was redone to four lanes between the cities of Liberia and Cañas a few years ago and that the same work between Cañas and Limonal is over 40% done and to be delivered by April, 2021, traveling down south from Liberia all the way to Puntarenas should be a pleasant, safe drive all along two years and a half from now.
A complementary project included in the contract is the 3 kilometer that connect the narrow peninsula of Puntarenas with the mainland. This part currently has a heavy rush hour in the mornings and afternoons as it represents a bottleneck on the way in and out of the city.
It affects drivers headed from Route #1 to Route #27, the fasted way to reach the Central Valley if you are coming from Guanacaste. The work includes bike lanes and pedestrian walkways.
This project should be finished according to the contract within 12 months.