Saturday, April 20, 2024

New Puerto Vallarta highway section opens, saving drivers nearly an hour

A shorter drive to the coast. That’s what everyone who lives inland wants, right?

And that’s what the people of Aguascalientes, Zacatecas, Guanajuato, Jalisco and surrounding states now have, thanks to the opening of another section of roadway to the Riviera Nayarit Corridor.

Map of Nayarit showing the new highway from Jala to Las Varas in Nayarit
The newly-opened stretch of highway provides the final link (the blue line) to connect highway 15D in Jala, Nayarit (see the red pin), and highway 200 in Las Varas, Nayarit, which drivers take to Puerto Vallarta. Besides cutting down some of the driving time, using the new stretch reroutes drivers around a dangerous section of Route 200 that has been the site of numerous accidents near the town of Mesillas, Nayarit (circled in yellow). (Google Maps)

The newest portion of the Guadalajara–Puerto Vallarta highway, which stretches from Compostela to Las Varas, opened Wednesday, shortening the journey between the two Nayarit cities by about 50 minutes. That is, provided traffic is moving at a good pace, almost an impossibility at the moment amidst an abundance of people in their cars on Holy Week getaways.

The newest 29-kilometer section — which is free to drive during the current holiday period but will be part of a cuota (toll road) thereafter — follows the December 2022 and March 2023 openings of two other sections.

One more 32-kilometer section remains to finish, after which, officials promise, the drive between Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta will have been reduced from 4 hours, 30 minutes to 2 hours, 30 minutes. Estimated travel times, however, vary depending on which Mexican newspaper one is reading.

Nayarit’s Ministry of Infrastructure, Communications and Transportation inaugurated the new section Wednesday, issuing a brief statement on the opening.

“A special effort was made to finish the work [before an April deadline] to benefit users during the holiday period,” the construction firm Mota-Engil México noted on its website. “Starting [Wednesday] at 2:30 p.m., it will facilitate the journey of more than 1 million tourists who are expected on the beaches of the Riviera Nayarit and Puerto Vallarta.”

According to the news outlet Informador, the project to shorten the drive was announced in 2011 and was intended to be completed in 2014. 

Map of Nayarit leading to Puerto Vallarta
The final section of the highway to be built, which will connect Las Varas to Puerto Vallarta and provide a an alternate route to the Puerto Vallarta International Airport through San Vicente. (Fonadin)

“But 10 years later is when its conclusion has begun to become a reality,” the paper added.

The newest section is seen as perhaps the most important of the route because it avoids a dangerous area of mountain ​​curves on Route 200 near the town of Mesillas that has been the site of many accidents.

The final section, connecting San Vicente with the Puerto Vallarta International Airport will reportedly be ready in August.

The entire route will be 86.5 kilometers of new or improved highway, benefitting 17 communities and costing 10.6 billion pesos (US $637.7 million), according to the Tribuna de la Bahía newspaper.

The paper said that the finished work will have 45 bridges, seven interchanges, three tunnels and three viaducts, and that it will serve 6,000 vehicles a day 

In addition, the paper added, the project would generate 1,500 direct jobs and 14,000 indirect jobs.

“This work is synonymous with tangible transformation since the state’s infrastructure guarantees the progress of Nayarit,” Nayarit Governor Miguel Ángel Navarro said.

With reports from Informador, Quadratin, Tribuna de la Bahía and Forbes

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