On the southern shore of Lake Villarrica in the southern Araucanía region, the cities of Villarrica and Pucón lie on one of Chile’s most important tourist routes. Proposals for renovations to the 22.2 kilometres of road that connects them will begin in 2011, with the expected completion date set for summer 2014. A total investment of about US$28 million (CP$13.7 billion) will be necessary to complete the project, which aims to improve security and alleviate traffic on the road during the summer high season.
One of Chile’s most popular summer tourist routes, traffic on the road more than quadruples in the summer, rising from an average of 3,684 vehicles daily in the winter to nearly 18 thousand. In addition to maintaining and repaving the road, allocated money will fund the construction of eight new entry and exit ramps to provide easier access to hotels and camping grounds which are popular during summer months. The project will improve the beginning of the route by refurbishing urban roads within the town of Villarrica.
The renovation will not only facilitate easier access for vehicles to major tourist zones, but will also incorporate a bidirectional cycling path following the course of the road. The scenic lakeside route will provide bikers with improved access to the region’s celebrated scenery.
In recent years, related projects have also been undertaken to improve infrastructure and transit within and between the two towns. Two years ago a new bridge was constructed over the River Toltén to ease access to Villarrica’s city center, while 1.7 kms of new road were constructed along the shores of the lake on which Villarrica is situated.
A project currently underway in Pucón aims to eliminate traffic in the city center by creating a bypass for cars. Related projects such as these have cost nearly US$31 million (CP$15 billion).