I traveled twice this week down the southern section of the Costanera Highway from Quepos and Manuel Antonio to Dominical and here is my update. As many of you may know, the road has been a huge engineering project requiring not only hundreds of thousands of cubic tons of stone to build the road bed but also the construction of multiple bridges over the roughly 20 mile stretch that is now nearly complete. The final finish coat of pavement is now being installed on most of the road and at this point only about 3 miles by the Hacienda Baru (just north of Dominical) remain unpaved. Traffic has been shifted to the new road bed by the Hacienda Baru Reserve and the bypass around the small town (pueblito) of Hatillo is also now open so you don't have to drive through the center of Hatillo any more. The drive time this week (November 2009) was less than an hour for the entire stretch. The bypass behind Quepos is also now open with final coat pavement and the only thing missing seemed to be the curb stone along a few points of the sidewalks and the center line and yellow side line painting and reflectors. Much of the guard rail is already in place as well. The paving was contracted to three companies and it is fairly obvious that two out of three have nearly completed their mission, while the third is not far behind. I saw a big increase in tractor trailer traffic along the stretch since the Costanera is a much better alternative than the InterAmerican Highway over the stretch known as the Cerro De La Muerte (passage of death). Truck traffic will increase along the coastal route as more drivers realize they avoid the climb to nearly 11,000 feet above sea level on the Cerro and also avoid having to pass through San Jose on thier trip north. The new toll road from San Jose to Punteranas is also now open from Puntarenas all the way to Orotina. The missing piece between Orotina and San Jose is expected to be completed by early 2010. The toll booth is now open and the toll for automobiles is about 500 colones.
Crew at work on finish top coat paving on the Costanera Highway in southern Costa Rica.