Highway Concession Contract Signed

October 8, 2004

PUTTING one stretch of the Inter-American Highway in the hands of privatebusiness, the Costa Rican governmentlast week signed a contract with aconsortium of businesses for road improvementsand management of the 68-kilometerstretch of highway between SanJosé and the western Central Valley townof San Ramón.Rocío Aguilar, technical secretary ofthe National Concessions Council, saidthe project would cut driving timebetween San José and San Ramón by 40minutes during peak travel times.The international consortium includestwo Spanish businesses, ConcesionesViales and Itinere, one Portuguese business,Soares Da Costa, and one CostaRican firm, M&S. The consortium wasthe only bidder when it was accepted atthe start of the year, in spite of the factthat the deadline for proposals waspushed back four times in hopes ofobtaining more offers (TT, Jan. 23).In a $270 million project with a projectedfinish date of early 2006, the consortiumwill widen the General CañasHighway from four to six lanes betweenLa Sabana, in western San José, and theJuan Santamaría International Airportnear Alajuela, northwest of San José.It will also widen the highway fromtwo to four lanes between the airport andthe so-called Manolos crossroads, whichintersects with the road to Atenas andOrotina, and improve the road from thereto San Ramón.In return for the investment, the consortiumhas rights to a 25-year concessionfor charging tolls to drivers.The tolls were announced as follows:for light vehicles, $1.30; buses, $2.60;trucks with two or three axles, $3.25; andtrucks with five axles or more, $8.23.Also, project designers are consideringproviding medical assistance centerswith ambulances, an increased number oftransit police patrols, tow-truck service,an emergency telephone system at tollbooths,pedestrian bridges and bus stops.

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