Drivers who pay the tolls on the Autopista General Cañas (east of the San Jose airport) and the Bernardo Soto (in Naranjo) on the Ruta 1 will begin to perceive changes starting mid-July.
It will be then when the National Road Council (Conavi) passes the operation and administration of these collection points in the hands of the Fideicomiso Ruta Uno (Trust), created by the Banco de Costa Rica (BCR) to administer the expansion project of the San José-San Ramón highway.
One of the first changes that users will see is that the charge will no longer be suspended during peak hours or holidays, as is currently the case, but will remain uninterrupted.
The service interruption (no tolls charged) has been a method of the Conavi to keep traffic moving during peak hours or when traffic at the Río Segundo, Alajuela tolls back up too much and to give employees time off for holidays.
This measure still has no set date but will be applied in “the shortest possible time”, possibly in the second half of this year, along with other measures that aim to speed up the collection of tolls.
“At this moment, the Fideicomiso Ruta Uno is finalizing the contracting process of the company that will take over the work of collection, operation, and maintenance of existing toll stations,” said representatives of the Fideicomiso.
Higher tolls will pay for the change
In addition, the Fidecomiso will commission studies for the expansion to five lanes and five collection booths, as well as the relocation of the administrative offices, the pedestrian bridge and the bus bay, among others, at the Río Segundo tolls.
One of the main changes in the infrastructure is that the charge would be stepped, that is, the two new toll booths with automatic collection would be built ahead of the existing stations and where the current station is located, one booth would be demolished so that three remain.
The remaining lane, plus another additional one (to be built), will be used for the passage of the vehicles that have already been paid the tolls at the ‘ahead’ toll booths, though, with lane division to avoid the evasion of the payment.
Meanwhile, Bernardo Soto will expand the lanes to maintain the three toll booths.
At the same time, studies will define the new toll rates for both locations, which have 20 years without an increase, to cover the costs of the changes, expropriations, and relocation of public services and utilities.
However, don’t expect the changes, including new toll rates, anytime soon. In order to complete these processes, the Fidecomiso has to first approve its first budget which will then require the approval of the Comptroller General.
Then there is the question of the Value Added Tax (VAT). The Conavi is still waiting on an answer from the Ministry of Finance on the application of VAT to toll rates.
In addition to the Alajuela tolls, the Conavi also manages the collection points for the Florencio del Castillo roads (to Cartago) and the 32nd route (to Limón).