Puerto Rico Highway 53
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (September 2009)|
Dr. José Celso Barbosa Expressway
|Maintained by Puerto Rico Department of Transportation (DTOP)|
|Length:||59 mi (95 km)|
|History:||1994(Completion in 2017)|
|North end:||PRI-3 / PR-3 in Fajardo, Puerto Rico|
|South end:||PRI-1 / PR-52 in Salinas, Puerto Rico|
Puerto Rico Highway 53 (unsigned Interstate PR3) is a main tollway that is parallel to Puerto Rico Highway 3, which goes from Fajardo to Salinas. Some segments are still under construction, but when finished it will have about 59 miles (95 km) of length. Two tunnels, about 1 km (0.6 mi) long each, in the towns of Yabucoa and Maunabo were completed in October 2008 . It will connect the cities of Fajardo, Ceiba, Naguabo, Humacao, Yabucoa, Maunabo, Patillas, Arroyo, Guayama and Salinas, thus bordering the entire eastern and southeastern coasts of Puerto Rico. Its northern terminus is at PR-3 and PR-194 in Fajardo, and its south terminus is at PR-52 in Salinas.
The highway consists of five toll plazas; these are at Ceiba Norte, Humacao Norte, Humacao Sur (near Palmas del Mar), Guayama and Salinas. It is very probable that a final toll plaza before entering the future tunnels is added, and it might be the most expensive of all the toll plazas in the four main tollways (PR-52, PR-22 and PR-66) and possibly even more expensive than the toll plaza at the Teodoro Moscoso Bridge ($3.25 per direction) because of the high cost of the construction of the tunnels.
All toll plazas, with the exception of the one located in Guayama (near km 80), have the Auto Expreso lanes.
Three phases of the tollway have been completed: the first one was from Salinas to Guayama, which is about 7.5 miles (12.1 km) long (milepost 83 to 95 km), the second from Fajardo to Yabucoa at 28 mi (45 km) (This includes an incomplete bridge in Yabucoa that does not fall into the high-speed highway classification in the interstate system as it is only one lane per direction and will require the addition of an additional bridge or constructing a bridge over the existing bridge, as it lies in a main corn and plantain field.) Recently 1.2 miles (1.9 km), between Yabucoa and Maunabo, includes the last tunnel, Vicente Morales, was opened in October 2008. The total constructed highway at this time is 34 miles (55 km), leaving nearly 25 miles (40 km) to be constructed in Yabucoa (including the other additional tunnel) and from Maunabo to Guayama which is the longest to-be-built segment. The lanes in the Yabucoa segments were divided by painted yellow lines and no-passing zone boards, but a concrete median barrier had to be installed because some cars still passed others going slower, resulting in deadly head-on collisions; illegal night races also had deadly consequences.
PR-53 is the tollway with the lowest traffic in Puerto Rico, and very few congestion jams have been reported. PR-53 does not enter highly populated towns (none of them are over 100,000; the largest are Fajardo, Humacao and Guayama) and is not close to increase its traffic due to the fact that most of the population in the east part of Puerto Rico live in the San Juan metro area, Caguas and Cayey, cities where PR-53 makes no appearance; and the main traffic in Humacao is mostly located on the PR-30 and PR-60 highways. The center/business area of Humacao is accessed via PR-30 and PR-60, not by PR-53. Because of this, PR-53 has no more than two lanes per direction in the constructed segments and will probably have no more than two lanes per direction in the entire length.
PR-53 is also prone to flooding in the areas near Naguabo and Fajardo: during heavy rains, it is sometimes closed to traffic. There are current proposals to convert PR-3 from Rio Grande to Fajardo into a freeway to provide a controlled-access route between PR-53's northern terminus and the second phase of PR-66. At the rate of construction, the entire PR-53 corridor might be completed within the next ten years. The first segment of PR-53 was opened in 1994.
||This section contains a table that is missing mileposts for one or more junctions. Please help by .|
- "Caribbean Business Article: Traffic Jams Local Economy". On The Road Again... July 6, 2007
- Hawaii Highways: Puerto Rico – Puerto Rico Interstate Photographs (2002)