Dreams of Highways - What was once a dream in the eyes of the administration of Rodrigo Carazo Odio, President of Costa Rica back in 1979 when the first plans for the Caldera Highway were conceived, is soon to become reality. Over 30 years ago the Caldera Highway project was initially planned. Work did not begin on the project for many more years, grinding to a halt about 10 years ago after it was discovered that the government had not yet expropriated all the land needed to build the road. About three years ago, President Oscar Arias got the project back on track.
Costa Rica Blog
Bridge Update: All the major bridges from Jaco to Dominical are now completed. The new bridge is now open in Parrita though they still have it a bit constricted while they finish the striping and guard rails but you no longer have to wait at the one lane antiquated bridge to cross the river. The bridge across the Sevegre River has now been fully widened to two lanes and only waits for center lane striping and reflectors. The bridge across the Naranjo River just south of Quepos is now fully operational, two lanes wide and even has some break down space. The only bridge left to be completed is the one lane bridge by the town of Hatillo, which was only installed a few years ago and is close to Dominical. This is welcome news for the southern region since an antiquated hammock bridge recently collapsed in the central region on the Tarcoles River. It also speeds the trip to Ojochal.
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.