Bolivia Road Network

By | November 9, 2022

According to wholevehicles, Bolivia has a highly underdeveloped road network, due to its economic situation, geography and large remote areas. The population is concentrated in the Andes Mountains, which makes road construction difficult. The main roads run through the Andes Mountains, such as from La Paz via Cochabamba to Santa Cruz and branches to Potosi and Sucre. The Yungas Road from La Paz to the northeast is considered the most dangerous road in the world, although a newer road has been built since 2006. There are no real highways in Bolivia, but there are some highway-like sections in the city of La Paz and some 2×2- routes around and in other major cities. La Paz is also home to the highest grade-separated interchange in the world at 4,100 meters. A new grade-separated ring road is being constructed around La Paz across the plateau on the west side of the city. The city is characterized by the enormous differences in height, the western part is located at an altitude of approximately 4,100 meters on a plateau, while the eastern part is located in a ravine, at an altitude of approximately 3,200 meters. TheAutopista La Paz – El Alto connects both parts of the city. Bolivia’s main road network is formed by the Red Vial Fundamental.

Border crossings exist with all neighboring countries, although they are sparse. There is one main route to Puno in Peru, 4 main roads to the north of Chile, 3 to Argentina and one over the Gran Chaco to Paraguay. There is also one through road to São Paulo in Brazil. To the north there are few asphalted roads. Approximately 10,000 kilometers of the 62,000-kilometre road network is asphalted. In La Paz, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz de la Sierra there are 2×2 roads that resemble a highway. By western standards, these could be considered substandard highways.

Rutas nacionales in Bolivia
RN1 • RN2 • RN3 • RN4 • RN5 • RN6 • RN7 • RN8 • RN9 • RN10 • RN11 • RN12 • RN13 • RN14 • RN15 • RN16 • RN17 • RN18 • RN19 • RN20 • RN21 • RN22 • RN23 • RN24 • _ _ RN26 •RN27 • RN28 • RN29 • RN30 • RN31 • RN32 • RN33 • RN34 • RN35 • RN36 • RN37 • RN38 • RN39 • RN40 • RN41 • RN42 • RN43 • RN44 • RN45

History

In the 1970s, Bolivia had hardly any paved roads. In 1977/1978, Bolivia’s first highway, the Autopista La Paz – El Alto, was opened. In 1998 the Red Vial Fundamental was defined, which in 2001 was extended to more than 16,000 kilometers of road, not all of which are yet asphalted. Until about 2005, Bolivia had only 3,500 kilometers of asphalted road.

In the period 2006-2014, more than 4,000 kilometers of rutas nacionales were asphalted. Also, the RN1 between La Paz and Oruro was doubled to 2×2 lanes in 2011-2014, although it is not a highway.

Toll

In Bolivia, tolls are levied on many paved roads, via an open toll system. Toll stations are usually located just outside the larger cities. Due to the lack of alternative paved roads, the toll is unavoidable.

Road numbering

In Bolivia there are two road number layers, the rutas nacionales (1-99) and rutas departamentos (100-999). The prefix “F” is reportedly used for the Red Vial Fundamental, in practice it is not indicated.

  • Ruta 1: Peru – La Paz – Potosí – Argentina 1,300 km
  • Ruta 2: Peru – La Paz 155 km
  • Ruta 3: La Paz – Trinidad – La Cruz 960 km
  • Ruta 4: Chile – Cochabamba – Santa Cruz de la Sierra – Brazil 1,530 km
  • Ruta 5: Chile – Potosi – Sucre 605 km
  • Ruta 6: Oruro – Sucre – Paraguay 970 km
  • Ruta 7: Cochabamba – Santa Cruz de la Sierra 490 km
  • Ruta 8: Yucumo – El Chorro 540 km
  • Ruta 9: Santa Cruz de la Sierra – Argentina 530 km

Maximum speed

The general speed limit outside built-up areas is 80 km/h on tarmac roads and 70 km/h on gravel roads. The two-lane RN1 from La Paz to Oruro is allowed to drive at 90 km/h.

Signage

Road number in practice.

Road number from the Manual Carreteras.

Like (almost) everywhere in South America, the signage consists of green signs with white letters. There is not much consistency here, the design changes. Highway numbers are marked on a green shield with a white box, similar in design to many other countries in South America, and similar in design to US Highways in the United States. At the top of the shield is “Bolivia” in white letters, with the road number without prefix below. There are also variants in which the colors green have been replaced by black.

In practice, road number plates are used other than those stated in the road manual. In practice, black and white shields are used with the same shapes as in Peru, but with a different color scheme. The road handbook contains green road number plates that are shaped like a US Highway shield.

Bolivia Road Network