COSTA RICA NEWS – The Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes (MOPT) is seeking additional funding to add two lanes to the four on the 160 metre wide bridge over the Virilla river on the autopista General Cañas, commonly referred to as the “la platina”.
The transport authority has spent more than five years trying to fix the ailing structure, this being the fourth attempt, at a cost to the taxpayers US$8.5 million dollars, not including the widening.
To widen the bridge and end the bottleneck of six lanes merging into four, the MOPT needs and additional ¢1.067 billion colones.
The Contraloría General de la República (CGR) – Comptroller General, has asked the transport authority for an explanation of the 48.74% increase in cost.
The original repair work included strengthening the foundation and substructure and improving vehicle load. The contract was awarded by the previous administration to the CODOCSA construction company, with a completion date of December 2014.
Work on the project was stopped last month while the MOPT evaluated the construction of additional lanes, based on a report by the Laboratorio Nacional de Materiales y Modelos Estructurales (Lanamme) of the Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR), detailing how the bridge could be expanded while taking advantage of the ongoing work.
The Comptroller has asked the MOPT, among other things, clarity of how the cost of the work is calculated, given no construction plans was submitted with the financing request.
In addition, the transport authority is being asked to confirm of any “overlap” with the investment on this project with others on the road. The Comptroller also wants to know if the contractor is up-to-date with payments to the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS).
The structure is 53 years old, built in an era of few cars in the country. Today, the structure that has lacked proper maintenance for more than two decades has to withstand the a daily average of 50.000 and more vehicles.
“The request for information is very broad and without it is impossible to resolve the matter of the (financing) request,” says the Comptroller.