This past two weeks, I had the pleasure of taking the new Caldera toll road from San Jose to the coast. This was my first time on the new road and I was really impressed. The road, built by Autopista Del Sol (a consortium from Spain) is an engineering marvel. Bridges now span vast valleys where switch back hair pin turns used to be the only way to traverse the terrain. The highway is divided with plenty of room for cars and trucks alike.
The road starts right in downtown San Jose, running parrellel to Sabana Park, the previous site of the international airport. You are quickly passing through Escazu, Santa Ana and Cuidad Colon. As you climb through the mountains, the road bed is straight and wide. There are passing lanes scattered throughout the drive, providing appropriate places to pass slow moving trucks, toursit vans and other slower moving vehicles.
There are 3 tolls from downtown San Jose to Orotina where you turn onto the coastal highway headed south. The toll booths all feature "quick pass" lanes to speed those drivers who regularly use the road through the use of prepaid transponders that you can buy at a variety of locations. The tolls are 380 colones, 480, colones and 640 colones, a bit less than $3.00 for the entire route. You can pay in either dollars or colones and the toll collectors great you with a smile.
There are a variety of bridges along the route that span picture perfect valleys. Iguana crossing signs are common along the dry section between Cuidad Colon and Atenas. The one drawback I encountered is that there are no signs to direct you to the international airport on your return trip. I figured out the direct route to the airport on my third voyage, taking the Coyol exit, crossing to the other side of the highway, taking the first right out of the rotary (toward Cierrilos) and turning left at the first stop sign. You follow this road about 4-5 miles until you see signs for the airport. You can also take the road further toward San Jose and take the Behlen exit but the traffic is heavy there as you pass the HP and Panasonic plants. I think it would be a great idea for the department of transportation to put some signage to the airport but otherwise I was extremely impressed with the new highway.