The autopista General Cañas becomes a parking lot daily.

Q COSTA RICA – Want to know why there is some much traffic congestion in the Greater Metropolitan Area (GAM) of San Jose? The real reason?

One half of the answer is the sheer number of vehicles on the roads.

Figures from the Figures from the “Central American Vehicle Park” report, prepared by CentralAmericaData‘s Business Intelligence Unit, indicates that in January 2017, 1.5 million vehicles were circulating

Of the total number of vehicles circulating in the country in January 2017, 61% corresponded to automobiles, 21% to motorcycles, 11% to light-duty vehicles and 3% to heavy loads.

When analyzing vehicle in the automotive category by brands, Hyundai, Toyota and Nissan together make up 54% of the units in circulation. In the motorcycle category, 25% of the units in circulation correspond to the brands Honda and Yamaha.

Interesting, while the report indicates Huyndai is the top brand in Costa Rica, in its report of Age of vehicles in Central America, the Korean brand is last in the top five, behind the Japanese brands of Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Suzuki.

Those numbers a decade ago was a little more than half.

Which brings us to the second half of the answer, the roads. More specifically, its bridges.

In the last decade the only “new” road built is the Ruta 27, not counting the section between La Sabana and Santa Ana, which existed prior to the “San Jose – Caldero project.

And the Coyol radial, the road from the Ruta 1 by the Riteve station and the Ruta 27 is new. Other than that it is really hard to come up with any new roads build in the last ten years.

The others have had makeovers, like the autopista General Cañas, a four lane ‘autopista’ – not daring to call it a highway – was expanded to six lanes from the Juan Pablo Segundo bridge to the airport. In the expansion, the General Cañas lost its shoulders and the lanes narrowed.

Or the Bernardo Soto, from the airport west to the Cruce de Manolos, where the expansion was from two to four lanes, but with interruptions for the bridges, that like on the General Cañas, remain narrower than the lanes.

The bridges on just about every major road is the major source of congestion. On the General Cañas, four lane bridges are part of the six lane road. On the Bernardo Soto: four lanes road, two lane bridges. Drivers in Lindora live daily the horror of the two lane Virilla river bridge.

Examples like this are all over, I am just citing those example that I, living in the west end of the GAM, live daily. The same is lived by thousands in the east, north and south.

There is an effort underway to fix this, but the solution, I fear, may be short by the time the bridges are actually built.

On the General Cañas, the new six lane bridge is almost ready. But what about now the Juan Pablo II bridge that is falling apart? Or the bridge by the Cerverceria?

I fear that by the time these problems are solved, it will not be enough for the ever-growing volume of vehicles on the roads. As the vehicular fleet grows, the road infrastructure lacks further behind.

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