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Puerto Rico Highway 53

Highway 53
Dr. José Celso Barbosa Expressway
Route information
Maintained by Puerto Rico Department of Transportation (DTOP)
Length: 59 mi (95 km)
History: 1994 (1994) (Completion in 2017)[1]
Major junctions
North end: PRI-3 / PR-3 in Fajardo, Puerto Rico
South end: PRI-1 / PR-52 in Salinas, Puerto Rico
Highway system

Puerto Rico Highways

PR-52 PR-54

Puerto Rico Highway 53 (unsigned Interstate PR3) is a main tollway that is parallel to Puerto Rico Highway 3, which goes from Fajardo to Salinas. Some segments are still in planning, but when finished it will have about 59 miles (95 km) of length. Two tunnels, about 1 km (0.6 mi) long each, in the towns of Yabucoa and Maunabo were completed in October 2008 (2008-10). It will connect the cities of Fajardo, Ceiba, Naguabo, Humacao, Yabucoa, Maunabo, Patillas, Arroyo, Guayama and Salinas, thus bordering the entire eastern and southeastern coasts of Puerto Rico. Its northern terminus is at PR-3 and PR-194 in Fajardo, and its south terminus is at PR-52 in Salinas.


  • Overview 1
  • Exit list 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4


A typical stretch of the PR-53 freeway through Humacao, Puerto Rico with the El Yunque peak in the distance.

The highway consists of five toll plazas; these are at Ceiba Norte, Humacao Norte, Humacao Sur (near Palmas del Mar), Guayama and Salinas. It is very probable that a final toll plaza before entering the future tunnels is added, and it might be the most expensive of all the toll plazas in the four main tollways (PR-52, PR-22 and PR-66) and possibly even more expensive than the toll plaza at the Teodoro Moscoso Bridge ($3.25 per direction) because of the high cost of the construction of the tunnels.

All toll plazas have the Auto Expreso lanes.

Three phases of the tollway have been completed: the first one was from Salinas to Guayama, which is about 7.5 miles (12.1 km) long (milepost 83 to 95 km), the second from Fajardo to Yabucoa at 28 mi (45 km) (This includes an incomplete bridge in Yabucoa that does not fall into the high-speed highway classification in the interstate system as it is only one lane per direction and will require the addition of an additional bridge or constructing a bridge over the existing bridge, as it lies in a main corn and plantain field.) Recently 1.2 miles (1.9 km), between Yabucoa and Maunabo, includes the last tunnel, Vicente Morales, was opened in October 2008. The total constructed highway at this time is 34 miles (55 km), leaving nearly 25 miles (40 km) to be constructed in Yabucoa (including the other additional tunnel) and from Maunabo to Guayama which is the longest to-be-built segment. The lanes in the Yabucoa segments were divided by painted yellow lines and no-passing zone boards, but a concrete median barrier had to be installed because some cars still passed others going slower, resulting in deadly head-on collisions; illegal night races also had deadly consequences.

Southwestern terminus of PR-53 in Salinas, connecting with PR-52.

PR-53 is the tollway with the lowest traffic in Puerto Rico, and very few congestion jams have been reported. PR-53 does not enter highly populated towns (none of them are over 100,000; the largest are Fajardo, Humacao and Guayama) and is not close to increase its traffic due to the fact that most of the population in the east part of Puerto Rico live in the San Juan metro area, Caguas and Cayey, cities where PR-53 makes no appearance; and the main traffic in Humacao is mostly located on the PR-30 and PR-60 highways. The center/business area of Humacao is accessed via PR-30 and PR-60, not by PR-53. Because of this, PR-53 has no more than two lanes per direction in the constructed segments and will probably have no more than two lanes per direction in the entire length.

Maunabo Tunnels under construction, 2008

PR-53 is also prone to flooding in the areas near Naguabo and Fajardo: during heavy rains, it is sometimes closed to traffic. There are current proposals to convert PR-3 from Rio Grande to Fajardo into a freeway to provide a controlled-access route between PR-53's northern terminus and the second phase of PR-66. At the rate of construction, the entire PR-53 corridor might be completed within the next ten years.[1] The first segment of PR-53 was opened in 1994.

Exit list

PR-53 freeway overpass over PR-3 in Humacao at Exit 31.
Eastern terminus of the PR-30 freeway with the PR-53 interchange.
Municipality Location km mi Exit Destinations Notes
Fajardo   0 0 -- PRI-3 / PR-3 / PR-194 – Fajardo, Carolina North end of PR-53. Interstate PR3 continues northwestbound via PR-3 as an At-grade traffic lighted expressway.
  2 PR-3 – Ceiba, Aeropuerto Diego Jimenez Torres
Ceiba   5 PR-975 – Ceiba Norte
  6 PR-978 / (Carretera Chupacallos) – Ceiba Sur
  10 PR-3
Naguabo   13 PR-3 / PR-973 – Playa de Naguabo, Daguao
  17 PR-971 / (Camino El Duque) – Ceiba Sur Southbound Exit Only
  18 PR-31 / PR-205 – Naguabo
  20 PR-31 / PR-970 – Juncos, Naguabo
  22 PR-31 – Juncos Southbound exit and Northbound entrance
Humacao   25 PR-927 – Anton Ruiz
  31 PR-3 – Humacao
  33 PR-30 – Juncos, Caguas, San Juan
  35 PR-3 / PR-906 – Candelero Abajo Southbound exits signed  35A (north) and 35B (south)
Yabucoa   39 PR-906 – Yabucoa, Playa South end of 4 lanes Interstate Highway standards to 2 lanes divide freeway.
  PR-901 / PR-9914 – Yabucoa, Maunabo At-grade intersection
Temporary gap in PR-53
Maunabo   PR-901 – Yabucoa, Maunabo At-grade intersection
  Vicente Morales Tunnel
  PR-901 – Maunabo, Patillas At-grade intersection
Temporary gap in PR-53
Patillas   PR-3 – Patillas, Maunabo At-grade intersection. Mainline stub exist for a future extension.
  Patillas Airport At-grade intersection
  PR-3 – Patillas, Arroyo, Guayama At-grade intersection
Temporary gap in PR-53
Guayama   PR-54 – Guayama, Arroyo, Patillas At-grade intersection
  83 52 83 PR-7707
  87 PR-713 – Jobos
Salinas   90 PR-706 / PR-3
  -- PRI-1 / PR-52 – Ponce, San Juan Southwest end of PR-53
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi


  1. ^ a b On The Road Again... July 6, 2007 (2007-07-06)

External links

  • : Puerto RicoHawaii Highways – Puerto Rico Interstate Photographs (2002)
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