Ecuador Road Network

By | November 29, 2022

The national road network in Ecuador is called the Red Vial Estatal (RVE). The length was 9,998 kilometers as of March 31, 2018. The total road network is estimated at approximately 43,670 kilometers. A large part of the secondary road network is unpaved, but the national roads are almost all asphalted and in good condition, so Ecuador has a rather large contrast between the main roads and secondary roads.

According to wholevehicles, transportation in Ecuador is hampered by the impenetrable jungles to the east and west, and the Andes Mountains in the center of the country. For this reason, the road network is not very extensive, only a quarter of the approximately 43,000 kilometers of road is paved. There are a few short motorways around the capital Quito, but there is no national network. However, some corridors in the Andes have been expanded with 2×2 or 2×3 lanes. East of the Andes Mountains, however, there are no paved roads at all. Most routes run north-south through the Andes Mountains. There is one major border crossing with Colombia and three border crossings with Peru. The Carretera Panamericana runs through Ecuador.

There are a number of highways in Quito, where tolls are also charged. Due to the enormous height differences over a short distance, many highways have sharp bends and even hairpin bends. Between parts of the agglomeration there is a difference in height of 500 meters over short distances. The city is elongated in a north-south direction, and for the most part has a 2×3 lane highway bypass. In addition, there are a number of 2×2 roads that have been developed as a highway. The older part of Quito has a road network that resembles a grid, but is certainly not a perfect grid, as seen in many other Latin American countries.

Since 2001, Ecuador’s road network has been extensively modernized. A large part of the main roads has been in good condition since then. Many narrow roads have been widened to 2 full lanes and some connections have been widened to 2×2 lanes, especially around the largest cities. There are no real through highways, but Quito and Guayaquil have well-developed roads, with the widest road in Ecuador being a bridge in Guayaquil with 2×5 lanes. Many roads have been brought under concession to finance the improvements. Almost all E-roads are in good condition.

Autopistas in Quito
Autopista General Rumiñahui • Autopista Quito – Tababela • Avenida Libertador Simón Bolívar • Avenida Morán Valverde • Colectora Quito – Cayambe • Ruta Collas • Ruta Viva

Vias primarias

The vías primarias (primary roads) are the main roads of Ecuador. These are all paved and in good condition. Important routes are increasingly operated with 2×2 or 2×3 lanes. They are divided into the “troncales”, the north-south routes, and the “transversales”, the east-west routes. This grid is not very dense, there are only 10 main routes and 2 branches (E25A and E45A). Ecuador’s two largest cities, Guayaquil and Quito, are each served by only one via primaria. Several smaller cities are more important hubs in the Ecuadorian road network than the largest cities Guayaquil and Quito.

No. Name Route Length
Troncal Insular Baltra – Puerto Ayora 38 km
Transversal Frontizera San Lorenzo – Nueva Loja – Puerto El Carmen de Putumayo 453 km
Troncal del Pacifico Mataje – Esmeraldas – Salinas 741 km
Transversal Norte Esmeraldas – Santo Domingo – Baeza – Puerto Francisco de Orellana 336 km
Troncal de la Costa Los Bancos – Santo Domingo – Quevedo – Machala – Zapotillo 664 km
Transversal Central Manta – Quevedo – Latacunga – Ambato – Puyo 438 km
Troncal de la Sierra Rumichaca – Quito – Ambato – Cuenca – Loja – Macará 781 km
Transversal Australia Salinas – Guayaquil – La Troncal – Azogues – Puerto Morona 649 km
Troncal Amazonica General Farfán – Nueva Loja – Puyo – Zamora 701 km
Transversal Sur Huaquillas – Arenillas – Catamayo – Loja – Zamora 224 km
Major Roads in Ecuador
E5 • E10 • E15 • E20 • E25 • E30 • E35 • E40 • E45 • E50

History

In 1929 the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Comunicaciones (MOPC) was founded, in the early years the focus was mainly on the development of agriculture and less on that of the road network. The road network hardly developed until the second half of the 20th century, Ecuador lagged behind many other South American countries. In 1984 the Ministerio de Obras Públicas was established. Due to the poor condition of the Ecuadorian road network, the first concession was awarded in 1996 to upgrade the Carretera Panamericana. Nine toll stations were built over a length of 560 kilometers to pay for the maintenance and expansion of the road. From 2001, a large number of PPPconcessions to modernize the national road network. After this, the main road network of Ecuador was restored in a relatively short time, the country Ecuador went from one of the least developed road networks in Latin America to a relatively acceptable road network. The current Ministerio de Transporte y Obras Públicas was founded in 2007.

Road management

The national road authority is the Ministerio de Transporte y Obras Públicas (MTOP). The current ministry was established in 2007, but the first ministry of public works dates from 1929. In addition, there are roads in the management of the provinces and cantons.

Road classes

The Red Vial Estatal (RVE) consists of two road classes;

  • Vías primarias: the main main roads, marked with a blue shield (12 routes, 66% of the RVE)
  • Vías colectoras: the collection routes that connect to the main roads, indicated by a green shield (43 routes, 33% of the RVE)

Toll roads

In Ecuador, a large part of the through roads is a toll road under concession. In 2017, 1,468 kilometers of road were under concession with toll collection. In 1996 and 1998 the first concessions were awarded for the modernization of the Ecuadorian road network, tolls have been charged in the country since 2001.

Road numbering

Red Vial Estatal

A primary main road.

A secondary main road.

Ecuador’s main road network is divided into primary and secondary roads, with primary roads having one or two digits. The numbering is similar to the US Interstate Highway system, with x5 numbers running north-south and x0 numbers running east-west. Other 2-digit numbers are secondary roads, which can also have 3 digits.

All road numbers have the prefix E, with an American-style road number shield. Some numbers also have a suffix, for example E25A. Of the primary roads, the even numbers are a “transversal”, an east-west route. The odd numbers are a “troncal”, a north-south route.

Primary numbers have a blue background shield with a red frame. Secondary numbers have a green background shield with a red frame as well. The name of the country – Ecuador – is also indicated in the shield.

Red Vial Provincial

There is also a provincial road network, which mainly has a tertiary and local function.

Red Vial Cantonal

The lowest road layer are the cantonal roads, which are managed by the municipalities. These are usually urban roads with only a local function.

Ecuador Road Network