Friday 31 March 2023

Costa Rica’s US$160mn Circunvalación Norte

With more than eight years of delay, the Circunvalación Norte was opened earlier this month

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31 March 2023 - At The Banks - BCCR

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QCOSTARICA – Costa Rica opened part of San José’s Circunvalación Norte, for which planning started in the 1960s.

With more than eight years of delay, the Circunvalación Norte was opened earlier this month

Dubbed the “most important road infrastructure project of the country in the last 30 years” by the head of  Consejo Nacional de Vialidad (Conavi) – National Highway Council, Mauricio Batalla.

The section is a 2.3 km elevated viaduct and includes the country’s first two three-level intersections, linking La Uruca to Calle Blancos on the north side of the San Jose metropolitan area.

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This section of road connects to the Autopista General Cañas (Ruta 1) to the Ruta 32 (San José-Guápiles).

Construction was awarded to the La Estrella-Hernán Solís consortium, with oversight provided by the UN project office UNOPS. Funds were provided by the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (Cabei), which is highly engaged in financing Costa Rica’s strategic road infrastructure program.

UNOPS divided construction into five stretches, or functional units, all built by the same consortium:

  • Functional unit I: Between the intersection of ruta 39 and Quebrada Rivera;
  • Functional unit II-A: Quebrada Rivera-Colima;
  • Functional unit II-B: Colima-Triángulo de la Solidaridad;
  • Functional unit III: between Triángulo de la Solidaridad and the intersection of ruta 32;
  • Functional Unit IV: between the intersection of ruta 32 and the intersection with Blancos street.

The opening of this section is the closest the Circunvalacion has come to completion since its inception decades ago, with Legislative Assembly in 1960 declaring the project of public interest. But lack of funds, problems with rights-of-way, and permitting represented hurdles.

In 2014, the Comptroller General demanded construction be streamlined, but the relocation of residents, theft at the construction site and other issues caused further delays.

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