The level crossing in La Sabana, the first in the country, moves up and down with the traffic ligths, train or no train!
The level crossing in La Sabana, the first in the country, moves up and down with the traffic ligths, train or no train!

(TICO BULL) I have been driving since I was 16, more than 40 years now. I have driven in almost every country from Colombia to Canada. But, only in Costa Rica have I seen this and many other WTF! things.

On Thursday, almost 10 years after the urban train starting operating in the San Jose area, the country saw its first train level crossing.

The level crossing was installed in La Sabana, on the north – south road between the McDonald’s and Universal. The objective is to prevent accidents involving the Pavas – San Jose and the Belen – San Jose trains that speed through the intersection mornings and afternoons on weekdays. The train doesn’t run on weekends and holidays.

The level crossing also has traffic lights, to control north/south vehicular traffic that is prohibited from turning left from La Sabana to the Avenida 10 (west to east).

Ok, all good so far. But, wait for it … the level crossing also goes up and down with the traffic lights.

Say what?

Sip. I personally witnessed the bars come down when the light turned red and then up when the light turns green. There was no train in sight. Or ever to come through the intersection, thus it was a little past 10:00pm.

This immediately reminded me the comment by one of the engineers on the project, that the passage of emergency vehicles (ie. ambulances, firetrucks, police) had not been contemplated. I didn’t pay too much attention to that comment, until I saw the level crossing in operation.

Nowhere have I ever seen that a level crossing work with a traffic light when there is not train coming or going.

My two companions, both Italians, one with an extensive period of time living in the city of New York, concurred.

“What’s in their head. I have to tell this to my Tica wife …”, was the comment by one of my companions, the one having lived in New York and now living in Costa Rica for some six months.

The other, with more than a decade of living in Costa Rica, retorted, “this is Costa Rica, what can you expect”.

Indeed, what can we expect.

Both commented on the need for Costa Rica to be regarded as a developed country and play with the big boys (first world countries), yet keeps a mentality well below the third world level when it comes its roads.

Driving anywhere in Costa Rica brings home the point. Failures of engineers and supposedly traffic specialists in designing and building roads that, for the most part, are a major contributor to the many traffic accidents and daily congestion.

Me, I think I will stay away from the La Sabana level crossing, as part of my personal “safe driving” program in Costa Rica.

Use the comments section let me know your thoughts on this.

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