What the bridge will look like IF and ever finished. Graphic: La Nacion
What the bridge will look like IF and EVER finished. The yellow/gold denotes new work, the grey the existing structure. Graphic: La Nacion

QCOSTARICA (iNews.co.cr) – Motorists who hoped that this time in new year they would be crossing with six lanes on the bridge over the Virilla River–the infamous “platina bridge”–will have to wait until 2016 to do so. The bridge carries 80,000 cars per day on the General Cañas Highway between San Jose and Alajuela, the busiest in the country.

The highway construction agency Conavi does not have a detailed plan of construction, reports La Nacion, but the plan will have partial closures and — near the end of the job — full ones. But then nothing about the bridge is easy.

Construction has already been delayed a year.

The history of the bridge is weird and it has been under construction and alteration for at least five years.

The bridge was built with a novel attempt to save construction materials and time but the vibration of 80,000 cars, trucks and buses passing over it soon revealed defects that defied remedy.

Finally at an extra cost of millions of dollars, engineers finally reinforced the bridge so that it would stand the pounding. By then, the “platina” bridge was a laughing stock on social media and a butt of jokes by local comedians. Widening the structure was envisioned when the structure was built.

Conavi calculates that traffic jams on the current four lanes cost motorists ¢7.6 billion colones in gasoline and lost time. But, if the traffic glut is alleviated during rush hour, the bridge should start to make up the deficit.

Currently at peak load, it takes an hour to reach the international airport from La Sabana park.

The latest work project on the bridge over the Virilla river on the autopista General Cañas startedd in October 2013. The work was expected to be completed by now, but a 12 month delay pushes back the project completion to 2016. Photo: Jorge Navarro | La Nacion
The latest work project on the bridge over the Virilla river on the autopista General Cañas startedd in October 2013. The work was expected to be completed by now, but a 12 month delay pushes back the project completion to 2016. Photo: Jorge Navarro | La Nacion

Deputy Minister of Infrastructure Mauricio Gonzalez told La Nacion that the bridge widening is a priority for the Solis Administration since the widening of the route between San Jose and San Ramon failed.

Motorists hope they get the bridge right this time — since it failed in 2009, the nation has spent US$10 million in repairs.


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