First Section of Jalisco Toll Road Open   

First Section of Jalisco Toll Road Open      

Tara A. Spears

The first section of the long awaited bypass toll road to Puerto Vallarta opened to the motorists April 8, 2017.  The stretch from Jala to Compostela is about 54 kilometers of comparatively level, well-built highway; however, the two lane access to and from t he existing toll road (cuoto) is approximately an additional 34 kilometers. I drove the new section in April and twice more in June with the same time results-only 10 minutes less driving time even though I was driving well over the speed limit each time. Once they start charging for use, I will not take it as there are an additional two money collection booths built in this section alone.

Budget cuts and environmental issues have delayed the construction of the new Guadalajara-Puerto Vallarta highway, but the SCT asserts that the first stage, between Jala and Compostela, will provide travelers from Guadalajara, with shorter drive times and easier access to the entire Banderas Bay region. It is disappointing that I did not see any semi-trucks any of the times I used the highway; only the last trip were there tour buses. From the first that I heard about the proposed bypass interstate highway, I hoped that a shorter, straighter route would appeal to the many 18 wheelers that struggle along Highway 200 towards Vallarta, hence making auto traffic less congested on that over-burdened twisty road.   

According to the Mexican Transportation Department, the goal of the new toll road is to “Reduce Travel time and cost while guaranteeing the safety of thousands of motorists traveling through that area of the state.” SCT Director, Salvador Fernandez said “this first section will save at least 25 minutes on the way to vacation areas.”  According to Spanish news, Fernandez also boasts, “The short route to Puerto Vallarta is continuing to be built… the commitment for the next stage of toll road is to complete the second phase of 31 kilometers south of Compostela to Las Varas by December, 2017.”

The third part of the work consists of 81 kilometers that go from Las Varas area to Bucerías. The work on this vital segment has not even begun because the highway department needs to obtain the property right of way and conduct environmental tests before they can even begin clearing the jungle. Once work starts on this third section, the stretch is slated to be completed in three years.  Unfortunately, since it has taken 15 years from the announcement of the project to accomplish the first 53 kilometers, it seems to be a very slow process. The actual work on the first leg of the bypass highway began in 2012 but didn’t open until April, 2017.


 According to Nayaritenlinea, “Once the short route to Puerto Vallarta is completed motorists traveling from Guadalajara to the beach tourist destinations, instead of a journey of four or four and a half hours they will be able to make the journey in approximately three hours. The new toll route is designed to allow visitors from the southern Nayarit and Jalisco to reach the tourist destinations with less time and less transportation costs.” Thus far, the first segment doesn’t fulfill this goal but I can see how the completed highway all the way to Bahia Banderas will be an improvement.  This little piece isn’t enough to make a difference.

For those of us living or vacationing along the coast, this inland route is irrelevant unless it reduces the quantity of slow, overloaded trucks on Highway 200. It appears that there is not a planned access from La Penita (coastal) to the new toll highway; the most direct route is still the two lane state road. But, for those in RVs or seasonal people driving from north, the quality of the new Jala-Compostella is worth trying.