The new highway to the Pacific coast, which has not yet rounded its one year anniversary, is under investigation again for persistent public safety problems and alleged lack of accountability in its operation.
President Laura Chinchilla has asked her administration to evaluate the project’s management to ensure that contractors comply with the terms of their agreements, align tolls with the level of service and pressure the highway’s private administration into adopting measures to ensure travelers’ safety.
“We would like to know whether there have been deficiencies or noncompliance (with the contract),” Chinchilla said at a Tuesday press conference. “The government is looking to ensure that the concessionaire complies rigorously with all the obligations under the concession contract, based on legal considerations, technicalities and public interest.””
The private company contracted to build and operate the highway, Autopistas del Sol, confirmed almost immediately their willingness to discuss the project. However, they also quickly ruled out the possibility of cheaper tolls – save for quarterly adjustments such as the ₡10 (2 cents) reduction at the toll in the western San José suburb of Escazú scheduled for this Friday.
“It’s important to remember that the established tolls are necessary to recover the investment made by the concessionaire,” said Cristian Sandoval, general director of the concession for Autopistas del Sol.
The 77–kilometer highway, which cuts travel time to 45 minutes between San José and the country’s Pacific port town of Caldera, has been subject to mudslides and falling rocks since it opened in January.