Santa Ana and Escazú, two areas where developments have sprouted like mushrooms and the lack of traffic controls has resulted in massive vehicular congestion.
Santa Ana and Escazú, two areas where developments have sprouted like mushrooms and the lack of traffic controls has resulted in massive vehicular congestion.

COSTA RICA NEWS – The director of the Policía de Tránsito (Traffic Police), Diego Herrera, expressed the sentiment felt by all, that the emergence of shopping centres, malls and real estate projects without plans for traffic controls have created the massive traffic congestion in the Greater Metropolitan Area of San José (GAM).

Herrera, the man responsible for traffic controls in the country, in comments to La Nacion, said that one the causes of daily congestion is that real estate developments are not required to provide plans to mitigate traffic impact during the approval process or to start work on the project.

The few that do (present plans) typically will do so once the development is operating, according to Junior Araya, head of traffic engineering (Ingeniería del Tránsito) at the Ministerio de Obras Publicas y Transportes (MOPT).

The consequence of this lack of  planning or requirement for a review has resulted increased congestion, especially in the peripheral areas around San José.

Examples of the congestion lived daily is in areas like Santa Ana, Escazú and Heredia, where in recent years commercial developments have sprouted like mushrooms. Perhaps, the worst of the worst is in Lindora, the stretch of road between the autopista and the Virilla river.

The two lane road –  with a middle lane for left turns in only part of the road – is a little over two kilometres that can take up to 40 minutes to travel during peak weekday hours.

The congestion in the peripheral areas also affects major roads in San José, like the Circunvalacion and Paseo Colón. The only remedy to keep traffic moving, according to Herrera, is to post traffic officials at key intersection, stretching the limited resources of Tránsito to the limit.

“While the Reglamento de Visado de Planos (regulation of review of plans) indicates that to have the relevant permit, the development must have the approval of the MOPT, in reality this does not happen,” said Araya.

Olman Vargas, director ejecutivo del Colegio Federado de Ingenieros y de Arquitectos (CFIA) – Association of Engineers and Architects – is in favour of the review regulation enforced, requiring developments to obtain MOPT certification with respect to traffic impact, such as ingress and egress.

For Randall Murillo, director of the Cámara Costarricense de la Construcción (CCC) – Costa Rican Chamber of Construction, said many developers are taking their responsibility and obligation seriously to improve traffic conditions around their projects.

However, complying with the rules “to the letter” may delay developments. “The problem is that the pace of public infrastructure is not keeping pace with developments,” said Murillo.

Developers are forced to undertake a number of obligations that is not their responsibility, but have to do so, of their project can’t move forward, according Murillo.

Director Araya agrees with the CCC representatives, that process (of obtaining a review) is very tedious, taking up to a year or more.

Source: La Nacion

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