The executive branch has designated the widening of Ruta 32 from Limón to Río Frio as its top priority. That means that lawmakers will have to consider the measure.
There is a deadline of Feb. 28 that has been imposed by the People’s Republic of China, which is providing the financing. A Chinese firm has been tapped to do the job.
The idea has been in the works for more than a year. A lawmaker from the same political party as President Luis Guillermo Solís was a major obstacle for the project during the presidency of Laura Chinchilla. He pointed out a number of contradictions in the proposed agreement, including that any problems would be adjudicated under Chinese law. He also pointed out that the proposed contract has had ethical problems elsewhere.
The Solís administration has worked to address these issues. However, there still is the fact that no design work has been done, and the Chinese firm would agree to a deal without knowing exactly what has to be done.
The proposal in the legislature is for $485 million, about $50 million more than the earlier proposal. However, some of the money for obtaining right-of-way will be put up by Costa Rica.
The highway is to be widened to four lanes with overpasses at key intersections. The length is about 100 kilometers or about 62 miles. The highway is a key element in the expansion of the Limón ports. The government is even opening a second crossing at the Nicaragua border in anticipation of heavy truck traffic from Limón to the country to the north.