Resurfacing the bridge over the Río Virilla – lane closures and realignments affecting travel in both directions on the Pan American Highway near Barreal – west of San José east of Cariari.
January 1, 2011 through approximately March 1, 2011
Resurfacing Not Replacing
Don’t get your hopes up when you see them dropping cones and rolling out the equipment. There are no plans to replace or widen the bridge to alleviate the bottleneck. The construction will only repair the surface of the bridge.
Squeezing three lanes of traffic traveling each direction on the General Cañas highway onto a two lane bridge already causes some of the worst traffic jams in the country with 20,000 vehicles affected each morning as they crawl into the city at 5km per hour only to turn around and crawl back out in the evening.
The plans call for working in one lane at a time leaving three travel lanes for six lanes worth of traffic.
Avoid travel into or out of the west side of San José between 6:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Alternate Routes from Downtown San José
West to SJO Airport & Local
There are no recommended alternate routes for local travel. Traffic delays on the side roads close to San José, Heredia and Alajuela are worse than on the Pan American. If you are headed to the airport from downtown leave early.
West to the Pacific Beaches
If you’re headed to the Pacific coast this would be a good time to try out the new “Caldera Highway” from Escazú through Orotina.
To the Northwest (Arenal & Monteverde)
A friend who lives in Arenal (not La Fortuna, but Nuevo Arenal 30 minutes away around the lake) consistently makes it to San José faster by heading west to Tilarán and Cañas then south on the Pan American Highway to Caldera where he picks up the new Highway 27 east through Orotina, past Atenas and into Escazú and San José.
If you look at the map this is a little like heading from Chicago to New Orleans by way of California, but because the direct route is so winding and narrow and the section of Highway 1 from San Ramón to San José is so clogged with traffic he consistently makes better time on the big loop.
The construction will make this round about route even more advantageous (unless you’re headed to Arenal directly from the SJO airport in which case you’re past the construction).