Friday 19 August 2022

Work to build intersection in La Uruca exchange starts Wednesday, March 4

The three-level road exchange will complete the northenr portion of Circunvalacion, a roject that is more than 70 years in the making. The southern portion was built in 1979; the new road is expected completed by May 2022.

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Beginning on Wednesday, March 4, traffic conditions in La Uruca are expected to get even worse than they currently are, with the expected start of the work of the construction of the three-level intersection of the Circunvalacion north.

La Uruca traffic will move through an underpass, while vehicles on the Circunvalacion use the overpass.

People traveling on the main road of La Uruca will feel an impact on traffic because that day the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation (MOPT) will give the order to start the construction of an intersection to three levels that are part of the North Ring Road project.

Mario Rodríguez, director of the National Road Council (Conavi), said the MOPT will be giving the ‘start order’ on Wednesday so that the consortium in charge of the works can import a special pipeline of aqueducts, necessary for performing the relocation of that service.

An aerial view of what the road will look like. The red building to the bottom left is the old Burger King.
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This means that, at least, in the first days there should be no major changes in traffic conditions; However, it could as machinery and work crews begin to appear on site.

“It is to get the project started, the traffic restrictions will begin when necessary according to the activities; there will be a schedule as was in the Garantias Sociales rotonda work, where there have been times the impact on transit has been more and other times less, but we will be advising (drivers) in a timely manner,” explained Rodríguez.

The intersection, which is being built near the old Burger King restaurant, includes a tunnel for vehicles that moving east-west on the La Uruca road; an exchange point to move vehicles into the tunnel or the overpass that will connect the south section of the Cirncunvalaction (Ruta 39) to the new north section that is currently under construction.

The blue section if where the La Uruca exchange is located

Once the overpass is built, traffic can move fluidly in the Circunvalación from the Hatillo and Tibás.

Once completed, the north section of the Ruta 39 it will be a true Circunvalación, a ring road, around downtown San Jose.

The Circunvalación north project has a cost of US$238 million and the Government’s estimate is that the work will be ready before May 2022, the end of the current administration’s mandate.

The Circunvalación (Ruta 39)

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In the 1950s, the Instituto Nacional de Vivienda y Urbanismo (INVU) – National Institute of Housing and Urban Planning, together with the Ministerio de Obras Publicas y Transportes (MOPT) – ministry of public works and transport, proposed the construction of the so-called Circunvalación (ring road).

The blue line is the missing section to complete the Circunvalacion or Ruta 39

The project was declared of public interest. However, 20 years passed without the work being done. The MOPT hired an American consulting firm, in whose report it was finally suggested that it was no longer feasible to build the road at the original intended location.

This report suggested that the ring road move further away from the central town of San José, towards less populated areas. Finally, the 4-lane road began to be built in 1979.

But only the lower half or south portion was ever built. The western section starts from La Uruca through Pavas and the Hatillos, continuing to the south through Alajuelita, San Sebastian and Desamparados. The eastern section swings north to Zapote, San Pedro and in Calles Blancos.

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The north half would have to wait.

More than 40 years after the start of the work, the ring road is still incomplete. Missing is the “arco norte” (northern arc).

The first signs of completing the work began in the 2000s, when the MOPT purchased the lands, but never carried out any evictions. In April 2014, it was announced that the expropriations were finally to be carried out. In June of the same year, the Comptroller General of the Republic approved the contract for the construction of the northern arc.

But, problems crept up, from challengers to the contract awarded to the H.Solis Company, to land expropriations and evictions, including entire communities that sprung up over the years.

It wasn’t until near the end of the Luis Guillermo Solis administration (2014-2018) that the project, albeit different in scope and route of the original plan, did things start moving. In 2018, the current administration of Carlos Alvarado made a commitment to have the Circunvalación complete before the end of its term.

 

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