On Thursday, The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) approved a $122 million loan to help expand and upgrade a 69.7 kilometer (43.3 mile) segment of Bolivia’s Santa Cruz-Cochabamba Highway. Developing the highway has been declared a national priority due to its high traffic volume of 9,000 vehicles per day. More than 20 percent of trucks using the highway transport agricultural goods such as soy, cassava, corn, sugarcane, and rice.
The current highway, which runs from from Montero to Yapacaní, will be expanded to four lanes to alleviate traffic and facilitate the transportation of goods. An estimated 200,000 people will benefit directly from the highway construction, including farmers living between Santa Cruz and Cochabamba who transport their goods by road and pass through the municipalities of Portachuelo, Buena Vista and San Carlos.
“Due to geographical and other factors, Bolivia depends on road transportation for most of its foreign trade,” said René Cortés, the IDB project’s team leader. “The East-West Corridor is Bolivia’s most heavily traveled road and carries the bulk of the country’s freight. It links the country’s most important cities with Chile and Peru to the west and with Brazil to the east.”
The project is expected to advance service ability, reduce travel times by nearly a third and accidents by 15 percent by 2017. The main components of the project include civil works, road safety, technical and environmental management, social viability, and project management. Only 4,800 kilometers (2,982 miles) of Bolivia’s 74,831 kilometers (46,497 miles) of roads are paved—a little more than 6 percent.