Costa Rica’s San Ramon Road Project Turns Into Marathon

With almost five decades in the making, the road from San Ramon to San Carlos has no end in sight other than rising costs at every turn


Costa Rica’s long-running San Ramon road project is costing more than originally expected while taking longer to build than planned.

With almost five decades in the making, the road from San Ramon to San Carlos has no end in sight other than rising costs at every turn

The work on the 29.7 kilometer stretch between San Ramon and San Carlos was planned initially to cost US$185 million dollars, but has so far cost US$287.4 million dollars.

The road is nowhere near completion, with around 86% of the project has actually been carried out, despite the work has been ongoing for the last 12 years.


The Consejo Nacional de Vialidad (Conavi), Costa Rica’s national road authority, a division of the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes (MOPT) – ministry of public works and transport –  is in discussions with contractor Sanchez Carvajal, which is carrying out the work.

The stretch between Sifón de San Ramón and La Abundancia de San Carlos the focus for many of the present issues with the project. A series of problems are afflicting the work to build the San Ramon road. In all 11 serious technical issues have been revealed including surface cracks, subsidence, damaged drainage and insufficient protection against landslides. Contractor Sanchez Carvajal is commencing necessary repairs to remedy the situation.

Infograph by La Nacion

On November 21 the Conavi began evaluating breaking the contact with Sanchez Carvajal.

According to the MOPT minister, German Valverde, “The financial cost of finalizing the contract is being analyzed, while different alternatives of how the pending works could be completed are being considered.

“The Board of Directors (of the National Road Council (Conavi)) – as I think the whole country in general –  has a concern regarding the duration of the project, the extent of the project, the need to be incorporating new resources into the project.”

At this time, the project has 23 km asphalted road and, among other things, still requires the construction of bridges over the Laguna and Espino rivers, as well as to resolve environmental aspects with the La Culebra wetland.

The bridge over the Espino river is one of the bridges still be constructed.

Besides the delays in completing the project and the rising costs, Luis Guillermo Loría, coordinator of the Programa de Infraestructura del Transporte del Laboratorio Nacional de de Materiales y Modelos Estructurales (Lanamme) – Transportation Infrastructure Program of the National Laboratory of Materials and Structural Models – of the Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR) – University of Costa Rica – says the road, the bridges in particular, “there are going to be bottlenecks due to design”.

La Nacion reports  the contractor will not comment publicly on the issue.

Almost five decades in the making. The project, which would shorten the trip to the north zone by 45 minutes, was devised 48 years ago and has been stalled due to technical, environmental, financing and politics.