New highways that crisscross Panama City are making it easier to bypass heavy traffic on the way out of town.
The Corredor Norte, a toll highway with several entrances on the north and west outskirts of the city, leads north across the isthmus, ending at Sabanitas, not far from the outskirts of Colón, on the Caribbean coast. This is a far better option than taking the old, slow potholed Transístmica (also known as the transisthmian highway, officially it’s the Boyd-Roosevelt Highway, though no one calls it that).
The Corredor Sur, another toll highway that begins just east of Punta Paitilla, leads to Tocumen International Airport, where it links with the Interamerican Highway. There, at a clover-leaf intersection next to Hotel Riande Aeropuerto Hotel and Resort, the Interamerican “Highway” (really just a two-lane road) continues east toward Cerro Azul and the Darién. This road passes through the Darién and finally ends at Yaviza, the beginning of the Darién Gap, through which no road has ever been built.
To all points west of Panama City—the beaches, mountains, Azuero Peninsula, Bocas del Toro, Costa Rican border, and the rest—there are only two ways to begin the journey by land: by crossing the Puente de las Américas (Bridge of the Americas) near the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal or by taking the newer Puente Centenario (Centennial Bridge) across the canal near Pedro Miguel.
West of either bridge, the road eventually connects with another toll highway, the Autopista Arraiján–La Chorrera. This is now a divided highway for much of the way to the western frontier, though most of the stretch between Santiago and David is still a two-lane road. Nevertheless, this entire ribbon of road is officially part of the Interamerican Highway.
Most Pacific-side destinations in the former Canal Zone are accessible from Panama City by taking Gaillard Highway (now officially known as Avenida Omar Torrijos Herrera), which borders the east bank of the canal and runs past the domestic airport at Albrook, the Panama Railway terminal at Corozal, Clayton, Miraflores and Pedro Miguel Locks, and so on. The road forks outside Gamboa. Left leads to the attractions around Gamboa before Gaillard Highway dead-ends in Gamboa itself. Right leads through part of Parque Nacional Soberanía, including part of the historic Las Cruces Trail, before intersecting the Transístmica, the old road linking Panama City with Colón.
One canal-area attraction, the booming Calzada de Amador (Amador Causeway), is now easier to get to from Panama City thanks to highway ramps that lead onto and off Avenida de los Mártires near the foot of the Bridge of the Americas.
© William Friar from Moon Panama, 3rd Edition