Q COSTA RICA – Surprise, surprise, the “Platina” bridge continues to be a thorn on the side of drivers and just another in the growing list of public works the governments of Costa Rica cannot deliver on time, if at all.
A few weeks ago, with cameras rolling, President Luis Guillermo Solis opened the three Alajuela – San Jose bound lanes of the Alfredo González Flores – the official name the Platina – bridge, with the promise that the remaining three lanes (San Jose – Alajuela) would be ready by the end of April.
However, on Friday we learned that it may not be until the third week in May, a “tentative” date.
“Soon we will have all six lanes opened, after a 10 year wait (…) despite the effort, it is impossible to have it on that date (April 30)”, said Carlos Villalta, minister of Public Works and Transport.
According to Villalta, on Thursday there was a meeting with engineers and a visit to the project, where it was explained that ‘unforseen events and corrections that must be made’ will have to postpone its delivery.
The Minister went on as to the whys causing the delays, but do they really mean anything for the thousands of drivers who use the bridge daily and the massive traffic congestion caused around the greater metropolitan area of San Jose?
If you will recall, the initial completion date was for February 28, 2017. Months before that, Villalta promised he would resign if the project was completed by then. Despite the date came and went, President Solis did not take Villalta at his word.
On Friday, through what can only be described as ‘conformist message’, Solis said, “I want to say I that I am very disappointed with this news, I did not expect it, the truth is you had the great illusion of seeing the project finished and mine of going before the Legislative Assembly on May 2 (the President’s annual report to the nation), to say of the great effort made. But it will not be possible and that makes me angry and makes me, like you, feel sad.”
The problems of the Platina began back in 2009 when a four-inch gap between one of the expansion joints was detected. Several attempts to repair the bridge failed. For some time drivers had to endure a bridge that was, well, necessary and the only one we have.
For some time nothing was ever done. At the beginning of October 2016, the present administration made the bold announcement that a new bridge would be built out of the old and that work would commence before the end of the month.
Everyone’s expectations were high. The end of February 2017 was the day that we could all put behind the national headache known as the Platina.
But then the delays started to set in.
It was the beginning of November (2016). Despite to what appeared to everyone that the work progress would make it impossible to have it finished in February (2017), Minister Villalta assured us that it would be.
Then Otto hit the country, the first hurricane ever to touch land in Costa Rica, forcing the removal heavy machinery in the surroundings of the structure and causing a delay in the schedule. A new date is given, middle of March (2017).
On March 20, 2017 the three San Jose bound lanes were opened traffic and President Solis, with his minister by his said, said the other side of the bridge would be ready by April 30, 2017.