$340 million loan will finance major wish list for valley roads

The nation’s road agency is in the process of getting a $340 million loan from the Banco Centroamericano de Integración Económica that will finance major steps to improve Central Valley traffic.

The money will go to making a start on the Circunvalación Norte, which has been in the planning stages for years. The money also will pay for bypassing the La Bandera traffic circle on the Circunvalación Sur. That will be a $53 million project that will begin just west of the Universidad de Costa Rica and extend south past Mall San Pedro to the traffic circle. Included will be an overpass or a tunnel to eliminate a grade crossing with the national train service. Other traffic circles also will be bridged. Among them will be the traffic circle under the Juan Pablo II bridge in La Uruca.

The Consejo Nacional de Vialidad also will allocate design and construction of tunnels and stabilization of sections of Ruta 32 where landslides endanger motorists and frequently close the highway, which is the main route from San José to Limón.
The money also will be used to double the lanes on the Río Virilla bridge near the Estadio Ricardo Saprissa and to build a four-lane bridge parallel to the existing one over the same river on the General Cañas highway. This is the site of the infamous platina bridge that simply cannot be repaired.

The loan will be repaid with road tax over 15 years, the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes said. The projects and the loan have to be approved by the budget watchdog, the Contraloría General de la República.

The Circunvalación project will cost $115 million. The stretch to be constructed will be from La Uruca to Tibás. The northern section is part of the plan to create a bypass around the San José downtown.

The money also will go to building a better entrance to the Port of Moín where a $1 billion cargo handling facility is being built and some $30 million will be to rebuilt bridges.

The ministry has the power to put itself in debt, so officials expect the package to be approved in a short time.

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