QCOSTARICA – Getting around the Central Valley is a daily headache for thousands of drivers, battling congestion, bad infrastructure and costs in time and fuel.
A public survey by the Comptroller General’s office (Contraloría General de la República – CGR) of about 3,000 people reveals that almost one-quarter (24%) spend up to two hours daily battling traffic, and 55% consider the road infrastructure is poor.
Daily, highways (autopistas) like the General Cañas (Alajuela – San José), the Ruta 32 (from Cuidada Colon to San Jose), the roads to and from Heredia, Desamparados, San Pedro, Cartago and so on and the Circunvalacion are clogged with volume of vehicles that for the most part these drivers have no alternate routes to consider.
Meanwhile, some US$613 million dollars for four road infrastructure projects remain waiting.
“The country needs to improve its infrastructure, improved infrastructure can improve the quality of life of Costa Ricans greatly, make things easier for business and to improve their competitiveness (…) But many take two hours to be able to move every day, that’s a lot and some people take much longer. There are people who get up at 4:00 am to get to work at 8:00 am,” said Martha Acosta, Comptroller General.
“The country has international financial resources available to improve road infrastructure and the issue goes to management efficiency. We insist on long-term planning, the country lacks a national investment plan,” admits the comptroller.
So, what’s going on?
“The solutions are relatively simple, the problem is in executing: like completing the Circunvalacion, the San Jose – San Ramon route, and we have to improve the capacity of Route 27, but really the quantum leap we need is in public transport,” says Jonathan Agüero Valverde, researcher of the Research Program on Sustainable Urban Development (ProDUS) School of Civil Engineering of the University of Costa Rica (UCR).
Aguero added the solutions have been mapped out, what is missing is prioritizing.
Choking off execution many times is the approval process itself, according to Federico Castro, manager of Administración Financiera at the CGR.
Plans are submitted without clear indication of the work to be carried out, or the path the road will take and required expropriations and financial compliance.