Q COSTA RICA NEWS / There was a time in the not so long distant past the new Ruta 27 between La Sabana (San Jose) and Caldera (Puntarenas) was a welcome relief for drivers.
Today, circulating the Ruta 27 means an almost sure bet of congestion at any time of the day. A trip that is to take not more than 55 minutes, in each direction, can at times be up to 90 minutes, and even more during certain times of the day.
Finally, the Consejo Nacional de Concesiones (CNC) – National Concessions Council – had taken note, realizing, what most drivers have already known for some time, that the road has reached its saturation point. The road today has more than double the volume of traffic it was designed and built for.
Through the most recent study the CNC has determined that the road is at 70% saturation. The result obliges the concessionaire, the Globalvia (Autopistas del Sol) consortium, to expand the Ruta 27.
“The contract establishes the obligation to expand the road when it reaches saturation levels of 70% and that is the case today. We did a study in terms of traffic, where we divided the route into 7 sections, measurements were taken and we concluded that in many of them (sections) the capacity was surpassed and that it is already time to expand the route. The users already feel it, but now we have the formal documents that support it,” said Silvia Jiménez, Technical Secretary of the CNC.
The CNC is now waiting on the concessionaire to present a formal proposal for the expansion, that is expected to see the Ruta 27 expand from the current four to six lanes the section between La Sabana and Cuidad Colon (Santa Ana) and to two two lanes in each direction between Cuidad Colon (Santa Ana) and Pozon (west of Orotina, at the Jaco cutoff).
Currently, the Ruta 27 is six lanes (three in each direction) only between the Escazu tolls and Multiplaza and four lanes (two each direction) between La Sabana and Escazu and Multiplaza and Cuidad Colon, with some sections, not more than a few hundred metres each, between Cuidad Colon and Caldera.
The project would mean an expansion of bridges (all two lanes between Cuidad Colon and Caldera).
At what cost?
According to Jimenez, the cost of the expansion is unknown, nor is it know what effect it will have whether the tolls will increase.
Under the terms of the contract, Globalvia must bear the cost of the expansion work, that if it the expansion project moves forward with due diligence, could start as early as 2019 and finished within two years (2021).
The Ruta 27 opened to the public in 2010 after some 30 years of planning that included the start and stop of several contracts by different contractors until the Oscar Arias Sanchez administration (2006-2010) decided on the concession model, originally signing a 25 year contract with Globalvia to build, maintain and operate the route from La Sabana to the Caldera port.
Under the terms of the contract, the Ruta 27 became a toll road, with main toll stations in Escazu, La Guacima, Grecia and Pozon (Orotina), charged based on the type of vehicle.