Costa Rica's transport and public works ministry will send to the comptroller general in June the contract under which state-owned bank Banco de Costa Rica (BCR) will set up a trust to manage the upgrade and operation of the San José-San Ramón highway.

The project entails expanding and improving 60km of highway between capital San José and San Ramón in Alajuela province, to be followed by a 30-year concession period.

The General Cañas stretch will be widened to six lanes and eight lanes in stretches between San José and the city's Juan Santamaría international airport, while the remaining stretch from the airport to San Ramón will be converted into a four-lane highway.

The aim is to begin construction by mid-2017, according to a release from Costa Rica's presidency. Required investment is estimated at over US$400mn.

President Luis Guillermo Solís signed off on legislation in early 2015 authorizing the trust agreement for the works, which had previously been awarded to Brazilian engineering company OAS.

Opposition to high tolls and allegations of conflicts of interest led the government to annul the contract with OAS in 2013. Costa Rica ultimately agreed to pay the Brazilian company nearly US$35mn for the contract rescission.

The legislation requires that BCR assume responsibility to plan, design, build, operate and maintain the highway, in addition to structuring project financing.

BCR was the only bidder for the trust contract after fellow state-bank Bancrédito failed to secure sufficient points in the tender. BCR currently manages eight public work assets under trustee arrangements, including the Toro III hydro plant, the Garabíto thermoelectric plant, and several publicly owned properties.


Source: BNamericas