Wednesday 8 February 2023

Alajuela and Narango Tolls may go up Oct. 1 to finance expansion of route

Proposed increase in tolls are to attract financing for the expansion of the 60 km route between San Jose and San Ramon. The project has been in the planning stage for more than a decade and none of the improvements have yet to materialize

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8 February 2023 - At The Banks - BCCR

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(QCOSTARICA) The State-run tolls on the Ruta 1 at Alajuela (east of the airport) and Naranjo will see an increase of ¢150 to ¢375.

Alajuela tolls at Rio Segundo, east of the San Jose airport, of the autopista General Cañas

The Consejo Nacional de Vialidad (Conavi) – National Highway Council – approved the increase proposed by the Bank of Costa Rica (BCR), which acts as trustee of the project to widen the highway between San José and San Ramón.

Under the proposal, light vehicles would pay between ¢225 and ¢275 at the Río Segundo toll and between ¢475 and ¢525 at the Naranjo toll.

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The current rates are ¢75 and ¢150 respectively in those stations and were established 18 years ago; they are charged in one direction at each of the stations.

The increase must be endorsed by the Regulatory Authority of Public Services (Aresep).

The trust in charge of the highway warned that resources are urgent to start the processes of expropriation, resettlement and relocation of public services.

If approved by the regulator, the rates would begin to apply on October 1, 2020.

Tolls at Rio Segundo are currently ¢75 colones and charged only to west bound traffic.

According to the information released by the Ruta Uno Trust, the resources that would be collected will be used to support a credit agreement to obtain the necessary funds for the pre-investment and ensure the comprehensive project of the highway between San José and San Ramón.

As detailed, currently, the project’s main challenge is to make it “attractive” for financial institutions to finance the project.

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“The only way to obtain them is through credit, so it is essential to implement a new rate structure, which allows supporting the operating and administrative expenses of the Trust and, fundamentally, to cover the debt service,” said the managing body through a statement.

What benefit is there for drivers?

As part of the project planning, the expansion and improvements in the existing toll stations are also contemplated, as well as the contracting of automated collection systems.

If the project comes to fruition, it has to be remembered that the expansion and improvement of the Autopista General Cañas (from La Sabana to east of the San Jose airport) and the Bernardo Soto (from west of the airport to San Ramon) has been in the planning stages for more than a decade.

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If you will recall, it cost us all some US$45 million dollars for the cancellation of the contract signed by the Chinchilla Administration (2010-2014) with the Brazilian company, OAS.

The office in charge of the trust also reported that they are currently facing a decrease in toll collections due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During the month of April, this decrease was 40%, while in the following months around 25% less was collected.

Before the health emergency, the collection in these stations was around ¢155 million colones per month.

The tolls of General Cañas and Bernardo Soto were previously administered by the National Highway Council (Conavi), however, they were passed into the hands of the Trust in mid-July of last year as part of the plan to expand the 60 km route between San José and San Ramón.

Upon assuming management, the BCR had announced that improvements would be carried out, which included the expansion to five lanes and five toll booths, as well as the relocation of the administrative offices, the pedestrian bridge and the bay of buses, at the Río Segundo toll station.

Meanwhile, on Bernardo Soto, the lanes will be expanded to maintain the three toll booths.

To date, none of these improvements have materialized.

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