Peru Road Network

By | October 31, 2022

As of December 31, 2012, Peru’s network of roads consisted of 140,672 kilometers, of which 18,699 kilometers (13%) were paved, 41,126 kilometers (29%) were gravel or other improved surfacing and 80,848 kilometers (57%) were completely unpaved.

The Red Vial Nacional consists of 24,593 kilometers of road, of which 14,748 kilometers (60%) are paved. The Red Vial Departamental consists of 24,235 kilometers of road, of which 2,340 kilometers (10%) is asphalted. The remaining Red Vial Vecinal consists of 91,844 kilometers of road, of which 1,611 kilometers (2%) are paved.

Road classes

The road network in Peru is divided into three road classes;

  • Red Vial Nacional: the national road network
  • Red Vial Departamental: the departmental road network
  • Red Vial Vecinal: the local road network

National routes

According to wholevehicles, Peru has a network of rutas nacionales that connect the larger cities. Transportation is severely hampered due to the extreme geography. The Andes lies almost uniformly at more than 4,000 meters altitude, almost all roads in the Andes run over mountain passes of around 4,500 meters altitude. The highest tarmac road is the 4,873 meter high Abra de Oquepuño, part of the RN34B. The highest ruta nacional is the 5,010 meter high Paso de Los Vientos, part of the RN40. The major cities in the interior can only be reached via very high mountain passes. Traveling by road in Peru is therefore very time-consuming.

The best developed road is the RN1 which connects all towns in the coastal region. This road is partly double-lane constructed as the Panamericana Norte and the Panamericana Sur. The RN3 is the highland road and leads north-south through Peru. This road has numerous mountain passes above 4,000 meters. The RN5 is an incomplete road on the eastern side of the Andes.

The high mountain passes on the west side of the Andes that are part of a ruta nacional are in many cases asphalted. The high mountain passes on the east side of the Andes are significantly less developed, there are only 3 asphalt roads to the eastern half of the Andes. These roads descend via very winding, narrow and steep roads through deep gorges from the Andes to the tropical lowlands. Almost all of them have to descend about 4,000 meters.

In the tropical lowlands there are few paved roads, besides parts of the RN5 the most important are the RN18C to Pucallpa and the RN30C via Puerto Maldonado to Iñapari. At Puerto Maldonado there is a suspension bridge that is the longest bridge in Peru. The city of Iquitos in northeastern Peru cannot be reached by road. There is only one border crossing with Brazil at Iñapari. Also, there is only one tarmac border crossing with Bolivia, the RN3 at Desagüadero. However, several roads lead to the Bolivian border around Lake Titicaca. Also, Peru only has one asphalted border crossing with Chile, two with Ecuadorand none with Colombia.

Freeways

There are some autopistas in Peru that in many cases require tolls. The most important are the Panamericana Norte and Panamericana Sur from Lima. There are also a few vias expressas around Lima. The highways around Lima are substandard. Outside the Lima region there are some double-lane sections, but few real highways.

Highways & national roads in Peru
North Pan -American • South Pan -American • Bypass Road • Yellow Line Expressway • Paseo de la República • Circuit of Beaches • Ramiro Prialé Highway • Javier Prado Este Avenue • Grau Expressway • Elmer Faucett ExpresswayRN1 • RN2 • RN3 • RN4 • RN5 • RN6 • RN8 • RN10 • RN12 • RN14 • RN16 • RN18 • RN20 • RN22 • RN24 • RN26 • RN28 • RN30 • RN32 • RN34 • RN36 • RN38 • RN40

History

At the time of the Incas, an extensive network of transport routes was developed in the Andes. At that time there was already a system of north-south routes (along the coast and through the mountains) and cross connections between them. After the colonization of the area by Spain, the road network of the Incas turned out not to be suitable for carts with wheels, the terrain was too uneven for that. So the majority had to be transported by horse, donkey or ox. After independence, the road network was not immediately developed. The poor infrastructure for land transport would hinder Peru in the development of the country for a long time.

In 1896, the Ministerio de Fomento y Obras Públicas was established, with the task of carrying out public works, including road construction. Road construction started more in the 1920s, important was the Ley de Conscripción Vial of 1920, in which people under conscription could be deployed to realize the road network. Road construction then continued at a steady pace in the 1920s and 1930s. In 1936, Peru’s road network was established as being 21,000 kilometers long. There were 12,600 motor vehicles in use in Peru at the time.

In 1938 the Plan Vial Peruano was established. This laid the foundations for the contemporary Peruvian highway network. The following roads were included in the Plan Vial Peruano;

  • Carretera longitudinal costanera: an approximately 3,200 kilometer long route from the border with Ecuador to the border with Chile, via Lima.
  • Carretera longitudinal andino: an approximately 2,000 km long route through the southern half of the Andes, 100 to 150 km inland from the coast, to the border with Bolivia
  • Carreteras trasversales y de penetración: connections between the two north-south routes. These were planned to be between 150 and 400 kilometers long.
  • Carretera Panamericana: from the border with Ecuador along the coast to Lima, then via Nasca and Cusco to the border with Bolivia over 3,380 kilometers. This route would largely coincide with the costanera.

In the second half of the 20th century, funding for roads was expanded, with the introduction of a fuel tax and the introduction of tolls on major trunk roads. Ley N° 15773 provided the legal basis for toll collection in 1965. The 1965 law provided only for road maintenance tolls, a second law followed in 1970 in which expansion and new construction could also be paid for with tolls. This allowed the Peruvian road network to be really developed. At that time, the first parts of the Panamericana Norte and Panamericana Sur near Lima also appeared as high-quality roads.

In the 1970s and 1980s, priority was given to the development and asphalting of the roads in the coastal zone, largely on the Carretera Panamericana along its entire length, as well as some tributaries and cross connections to the interior. In 1990, however, much of the rutas nacionales in the Andes was still unpaved, the best roads being from Lima to Huanuco and Huancayo, as well as around Cusco and around Lake Titicaca. In the period 1990-2016, almost all main roads in the Andes were also asphalted, which greatly improved the accessibility of the interior of Peru.

Road management

The national road authority is the Ministerio de Transportes y Communicación (MTC). The current ministry was established in 1968 but has had predecessors dating back to 1896.

Toll roads

A large part of Peru’s main roads are under concession, so tolls have to be paid, like almost everywhere in South America. Tolls are levied on most major roads, often just outside major cities. There is an open toll system. The density of toll stations is not very high, they are mainly long routes between parts of the country where there are a few toll stations. Electronic toll collection is also possible on some toll roads. This system is called Telepass.

Signage

The roads in the coastal strip are generally good with sufficient signage. Inland this gradually decreases. The signage consists of green signs with white letters, but there are also blue signs. Road numbers are rarely indicated.

Road numbering

Peru’s road network is numbered in a grid, with odd numbers running north-south and numbering increasing in an easterly direction. The RN1 is the Pan-American Highway along the west coast, the RN3 is the primary north-south route through the Andes Mountains. Even numbers run east-west with the numbering increasing in a southerly direction. In addition, the numbers are given a north and south suffix (N or S) if they run north or south of the capital Lima, the dividing line is the RN22. Also, all kinds of branches are numbered with a suffix. These are branches and sometimes alternative routes, old routes or new routes. The RN1 in particular has many branches. For some roads, the branches are more important than the main number.

The RN5 is the easternmost north-south number and the RN40 is the southernmost east-west number. Due to the Andes Mountains and the virtually uninhabited rainforest to the east of them, there are only a limited number of north-south roads.

The prefix is ​​also called “PE” in the written language. The PE-x numbers run north-south (longitudinal) while the PE-xx numbers run east-west (transversal).

Departmental road numbering

The secondary road network is numbered per department. There is a prefix for each department, whereby the numbers in the series 100 to 499 belong to the Red Vial Departamental and the numbers in the series 500 to 999 belong to the Red Vial Vecinal.

Region Prefix
Amazonas AM
Ancash AN
Apurimac AP
Arequipa AR
Ayacucho IS
Cajamarca CA
Cusco CU
Huancavelica HV
Huanuco HU
Ica IC
Junin YEAH
Freedom LI
Lambayeque THE
Lima LM
Loreto LO
Mother of God MD
Moquegua MO
Pasco PA
Piura PI
San Martin SM
Tacna PER
Tumbes TU
Ucayali UC

Peru Road Network