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American Society of Landscape Architects


November 2005 Issue

San Joséís Loop Road
Testing the first national road landscape plan in Costa Rica.

By Jimena Martignoni

San Josť.s Loop Road
Guy Wenborne

When people think of Costa Rica, chances are they picture the spectacular white beaches and emerald forests that beckon from tourist brochures. But Costa Rica also contains urban environments similar to those of other Latin American cities and shares common problems—especially traffic congestion—created by unplanned urban expansion.

San José, the capital city of Costa Rica, covers 76,600 acres and contains almost 40 percent of the countryís total population of 3,933,000 within its greater metropolitan area. Although surrounded by forested mountains, the city is a bustling business center, where 80 percent of the nationís commerce takes place—and 70 percent of its traffic clogs roads and streets. As a result, a number of environmental issues and their attendant social and cultural problems affect this small city: atmospheric and acoustic pollution, loss of natural water resources, and deforestation.

Faced with these glaring issues, Costa Ricaís Ministry of Transportation and National Commission of Transportation collaborated in 2003 to solve the problem. The agencies hired APT Consultores S.A., a Costa Rican landscape architecture and planning firm led by Carlos Jankilevich, to outline a set of technical principles for the planting and construction of roadways throughout the country. After researching the existing road systemís problems and exploring some possible solutions, the firm created the countryís first national road landscape plan in 2004.

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