5:43pm – If you live, visit, work, travel or move from one side to the other side of San José get ready for traffic congestion galore, as the Circunvalación will be closed between Pavas and Hatillo 8 for the next two months.

That is the word from the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes (Mopt) and the Consejo Nacional de Vialidad (Conavi) this afternoon after evaluating the risk of the slopes and the solutions.

At least 100 officials from the Fuerza Publica (police) and the Policia de Transito (traffic police) will be on duty around the clock to guide drivers through the maze of La Sabana and the Hatillos.

As a permanent solution, the MOPT will be removing the hastily erected four Bailey bridges and construct a vaulted sewer. The Bailey did not fail, rather it was the slopes that they were sitting on that began to give away under the accumulation of water from the heavy rains of the past week.

The problem began on August 25 when the force of the water of the Maria Aguilar river below was partially dammed by debris plugging up the two steel tubes to move the river. When the Circunvalación was built two decades earlier, engineers opted for the tubes rather than build a bridge. Lack of maintenace and neglect by Transport officials, over the years, led to the deterioration of the tubes, causing the water to loosen the soil supporing the road above.

Pedro Castro, minister of Transportes, during the afternoon news conference defended the decision to erect the Baileys as a temporary solution, saying that the structures save the country more than ¢600 million colones during the 9 days of operation. He was short on details on the savings.

Castro blamed the rising waters from the constant heavy rains of the past week.

Although the road is expected re-opened in about two months, minister Castro noted that the complete repair work will take about six months.

The closure of the Circunvalación, a road that has a daily traffic volume of more than 50.000 vehicles that skirts the downtown area of San José to move to and from areas like Desamparados, Alajuelita, San Pedr and Escazú/Santa Ana to the west, with mean a change of routine for drivers and a change in lifestyle for many.

There is no escaping it, traffic moving from one side of the city must now weave through the already congested La Sabana and Hatillos or through downtown San José.

The alternative is to head through the north side of San José, through the over saturated La Uruca. Ouch!

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