Capital directional signs will soon look like a million dollars

A.M. Costa Rica/Kayla Pearson
A proud Johnny Araya participates in the ceremony

After three hours of touring San José lost, Atlanta, Georgia, southern belle Suzie Mizell returned to her hotel frazzled. Discontented she threw her hands in the air and exclaimed she would never drive in the city again.

She also said that if she lived here she would start a campaign to plaster the canton with street signs.

Thursday the desire of Ms. Mizell and many other visitors distressed by the uncertainty of where they were going was fulfilled with the placement of the capital city’s newest road marking, a project that the municipality says has been in the works for 10 years.

Located at the intersection of Avenida Central and Calle Central, officials from the Municipalidad de San José, Banco Nacional and Banco de Costa Rica unveiled the directional pole by describing it as “the starting point.” Coincidentally, the day was also Dia Nacional del Turismo.

In total there will be 22,000 plates put up in the capital over seven months. This breaks down to 4,066 conventional poles with two plates for the intersecting streets, 2,712 decorative poles with two plates, and 9,036 plates for buildings and walls.

Each will include the name of the street and district. Overall the project amounts to more than 526 million colons, more than $1 million. Costa Rica’s two main banks, Banco de Costa Rica and Banco National, will sponsor the effort.

This work of nomenclature, will definitely have a very positive impact on the quality of life of the people who inhabit or visit the capital, but also in the competitiveness and the economic progress of the same, said San José Mayor Johnny Araya Monge.

Most tourists say they have been victims of confusion by the old direction system that includes a series of cardinal directions after 100 meters or a block followed by the words “directo” and ending with the popular “you can’t miss it.” Only later they learn that streets in the city are not straight and whatever they were looking for can, in fact, be missed.

This concept was illustrated at the ceremony by actresses Chabela and Chayo from the creative group Gentedemente. Chabela pretended to be a lost Gringo who didn’t speak a lot of Spanish stuck at an intersection with her map looking for a restaurant.

With broken Spanish Chabela asked Chayo for directions. Chayo answered with big gestures and guidance that took the person over the infamous sinkhole and to a park that didn’t exist. The two women then redid the skit using the new system.

In the new system every street including historical streets will have a number, said Araya. For example, Avenida Central and Calle Central will be referred to by their correct names of Avenida 0 and Calle 0.

Officials say that the benefit will not just be for tourists but for residents, also. The city will be more functional for businesses such as banks and postal services.

“With the placement of the nomenclature, San José is given one step closer to urban development that will allow the proper management of a growing city, that will affect the country’s competitiveness,” said Mario Rivera Turcios, general manager at Banco de Costa Rica. “Once more Banco de Costa Rica is present in projects that drive the development and the improvement of the quality of life of citizens.”

The general manager of the Banco Nacional, Fernando Naranjo, shared his sentiment and commented on the necessity of the project for modernization and economic growth.

“The national bank, which is part of the national history, has witnessed how our cities have been modernized, and in the case of San José, urgently needed to push this initiative, which among its many benefits, will serve to guide the tourists, who have long claimed the lack of appropriate addresses,” Naranjo said.

As for Ms. Mizell, she greeted the news with a sigh of relief.

“I’m very excited about this,” she said. “But I still will never drive here again.”

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