Another Expressway Update!

(photo from La Nacion, online.

The new San Jose to Caldera highway, which was opened to traffic on Wednesday, January 27, got its first real workout Saturday, when Ticos and visitors alike flocked to try out the new shortcut to the beach. Let’s start with the good news. The surface is good. Nice and smooth. It’s not as winding as before, either, much straighter. Some parts even have 4 lanes. Okay, now on to the rest of the story. 32 years of pent up demand may have caused the massive traffic jams. One reliable source said that there were massive, kilometer-long backups to get through the toll booths (he thought he counted four, but wasn’t sure). Al Dia, the Costa Rican newspaper, reported delays of an hour.

Although other motorists also complained about the toll booth delays, Autopistas Del Sol, the private firm that is running the show, reported the toll booths worked well and they were well prepared and trained. I guess reasonable people may disagree. Probably depends on your point of view. The view from the Autopistas Del Sol press office might be different than from the lines in front of the toll booths.

There were five minor collisions Saturday morning caused by the traffic jams, but no problems in the afternoon, according to the transit police. Some more good news.

According to my top-secret source, the trip from downtown San Jose to Jaco took 2.5 hours, including a stop for gasoline. When the old road wasn’t crowded, that’s about how long it took. But the road wasn’t smooth. And of course, the road WAS often crowded. I wonder how long it took to make THAT trip this weekend? Idle speculation.

I have not been able to contact my ‘source’ to find out if he saw any buses on the route. Maybe when they get the buses going, the lines at the toll booths will shrink. After all, that’s 50 people and only one toll stop.

I am not surprised that there was a flood of traffic the first weekend the new highway was open. It was a nice day, great for going to the beach. I’d like to check it out personally, someday. I think I’ll avoid weekends, though. And Semana Santa.

Anybody who made the trip, please feel free to chime in here. What did you think? Leave a comment. No waiting lines HERE.

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  1. Jim & Carol says:

    Just made the trip back from Dominical. Riding with our friend Dave in his three-year old Toyota, we left at 8am, stopped for about an hour to eat in Jaco, then drove into San Jose at shortly before noon, total driving time, about three hours. Both the new highway and the new road between Quepos and Dominical made this an easy run. However, as with any road in Costa Rica, you're only as fast as the slowest truck ahead of you. And, unfortunately, large, overloaded truck are already on the new road which tells me that it will be torn to shreds within a year.