Cuba Road Network

By | November 24, 2022

The autopistas of Cuba.

The Via Blanca.

According to wholevehicles, Cuba had more than 60,000 kilometers of roads in 1999, about half of which are paved. There is 670 kilometers of autopista. It must be said that the Cuban autopista does not come close to a Dutch motorway. A central reservation and markings are often completely missing, the roads often contain potholes or bumps and slow traffic is allowed to use the road. On occasion, even a railroad crosses; the railway crossingsare unattended. Now very few trains run in Cuba and the trains that do run are slow and can be seen coming long in advance. More problematic for traffic is that the level crossings form barriers in such a way that traffic has to slow down in order to pass without damage.

For an island that runs east-west, it makes sense that major routes in Cuba also run east-west. The Spanish word for these thoroughfares in Carretera. The most famous east-west route is the Carretera Central, which runs from Santiago in the east to Pinar del Rio in the west. The route is for the most part a simple two-lane road that dates back to before the revolution of 1957. The roads have not changed much since then. A highway runs parallel to the Carretera between Sancti Spiritus and Pinar del Rio. Plans to extend it to Guantanamo were never realized.

The Carretera Norte and the Carretera Sur run on the north and south sides of the island. These are also simple two-lane roads with little traffic. Also known is the Via Blanca, the connection from Havana to Matanzas and the tourist city of Varadero. Besides the mentioned route Sancti Spiritus – Havana – Pinar del Rio, a few more substandard highways in the city of Havana can be mentioned on highways.

History

In the 1950s, Cuba was one of the most prosperous countries in Latin America and scored very high on all counts. Construction of the Vía Blanca started in 1954 and in 1959 two stretches of highway opened, the Túnel de La Habana and part of the Vía Blanca. The latter is considered Cuba’s first autopista, although most of it has no lane separation and is not grade-separated. In the 1970s, the Autopista Nacional was mainly built, but work on autopistas was halted in 1990 due to a lack of funds. Just in time in 1989, the Autopista Nacional Oeste. openedfrom La Habana to Pinar del Rio. There are still several remnants of the original plans of a 900-kilometer autopista from La Habana to Guantánamo, several sections have only been constructed with one carriageway, and elsewhere earthworks have been carried out for the construction. The ambition was high for this autopista, with a route of more than 250 kilometers with 2×3 lanes and a design speed of 140 km/h. Closer to La Habana, even a kilometer or 30 with 2×4 lanes has been implemented. In 2014, the Autopista La Habana – Mariel opened, the first new autopista in 25 years.

Toll

The Cuban road network is completely toll-free. The Túnel de La Habana used to be a toll road.

Autopistas de Cuba
Autopista Nacional (A1) • Primer Anillo de La Habana (A2) • Autopista La Habana – Melena (A3) • Autopista Nacional Oeste (A4) • Vía Blanca • Autopista del Mediodía • Autopista La Habana – Mariel • Autopista de la Isla de Juventud

Signage

Signage in Cuba is very scarce. Even along the highway, exits are not even indicated, turn signals are often not there and finding the right direction seems to be a matter of asking Locals. The signage is usually very old.

In some places – and these are often places where many tourists come – there is more and often newer signage. It is somewhat reminiscent of that in Spain in shape and appearance. The motorway is indicated in white letters on a green background; other roads on a blue background. More touristic destinations are shown in black letters on a yellow background (hotels, restaurants), with white letters on a dark green background (parks and the like) or with white letters on a purple background (other places of interest). Finally, local targets are written in black letters on a white background.

The roads in Cuba are numbered, but here too the numbers rarely appear on the signs. The Pinar del Rio – Havana motorway has the number A4; the one between Havana and Santa Clara is the A1. The three Carreteras are outside the road numbering. They are referred to as CN (Carretera Norte), CC (Carretera Central) and CS (Carretera Sur). These letters are mentioned on a coat of arms that is somewhat reminiscent of the American Interstate shield.

Cuba Road Network