By Ivo Henfling
The main artery that takes you from the west into San Jose or from San Jose to the west, the Autopista General Cañas, is something you need to stay away from. For several years now, the steel plate (the locals call it the "platina") that connects the bridge over the Río Virilla (just before you get to Cariari in the direction San Jose - airport) and the highway is out of place. If you plan for Costa Rica living, you better get used to this kind of situations.
They have been trying to fix this for years now and every time they do, after two days, it falls apart again. This time, the goverment has contracted the administrator of the new highway San Jose - Orotina, "Autopistas El Sol" to get it fixed. But of course, since all traffic going west from San Jose to Alajuela and vice versa goes over this highway, traffic backs up for miles.
This highway was originally a 4 - lane highway (yes, we call that a highway in Costa Rica!), 2 lanes each way, and some genius turned it into a 6 lanes, three lanes each way. Of course that meant that the lanes became very narrow and moving over a few feet to the left or a few to the right, would get you into trouble with a large trailer or a bus next to you, who barely fit there. Anyway, the lane on the right was not used very much, only to pass those slow trucks that drive on the left.
So when trouble started with the "platina" bridge, suddenly everyone started being smart and started using the third lane on the right, to pass the long lines of cars, waiting to get across the bridge. This would form even larger lines.
Of course the Ministry of Transport (MOPT) found another genius who thought it would be a good idea to prohibit the use of the third lane and make it exclusive for buses. So at least the buses could run on time. Oh genius.......
photo by La Nación
Our real estate agent Rudy Matthews got caught a couple of weeks ago, using that lane, because he needed to turn off the highway and didn't want to get caught in the back by a bus. That was an expensive ticket and I'm asking you all to buy more Costa Rica real estate from Rudy, to help pay for the ticket. This is all part of Costa Rica living.
In a seperate blog, I will post an interesting interview with the chief of traffic police about this third lane issue. I think its interesting because it will help you, the future ex-pat, to understand the mindset of the Tico, so you can start getting used to things that many would get mad at, but most of us understand that this is exactly part of the culture that makes it so attractive to live here, for the good and the bad.
For now, make sure your car radio works. If you need to go to the airport, leave on time, so you won't miss your flight. If you hate standing in traffic jams, try to go around, through Santa Ana - Belen, though generally the traffic jams at Lindora are just as bad. Don't even think about going through Heredia because another genius thought they need to work on the road Heredia - Alajuela too.
For those who complain all the time, I hear stories about traffic jams "back home" (wherever that is) being just as bad, so stop worrying about it.
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