QCOSTARICA – Recovering the national road network will entail the spending of some ¢235 billion colones if the maintenance works that have been suspended for almost a year are not resumed promptly.
This is one of the main conclusions of the report from the National Laboratory of Structural Materials and Models (Lanamme), which analyzed the state of more than 5,300 kilometers of roads in the country.
According to the document, in the worst-case scenario, that is, if the conservation of the roads with the greatest susceptibility to deterioration is not resumed, they could reach a condition such that it will be necessary to rebuild or completely rehabilitate them.
“This scenario increases its probability of occurrence as the period of ‘abandonment’ extends due to lack of maintenance (…) it would require an investment of close to ¢235,000 million to restore the condition originally detected at the end of 2020″, warned the report, released Tuesday, December 7.
Added to this situation are inefficient investments, corresponding to some ¢14.6 billion colones used in conservation work that failed to improve the condition of the routes. Of that amount, the experts also warned that about 647 km worsened despite spending ¢11 billion colones in improvement works.
According to the Lanamme engineers, this happened, for example, on a route that appeared as a minor rehabilitation pending in the last evaluation, but for this inspection is rather classified as urgent reconstruction.
These results also occur when works are carried out that are not those that were identified as necessary, that is, if, in a road that required intervention only conservation work is done, those resources are considered inefficiently invested, the experts explained.
The coordinator of the Road Network Evaluation Program, Roy Barrantes, stated that 63% of the national road network is a candidate for preservation maintenance, which means that it requires improvements in road surfaces; 25.1% require road maintenance, that is, they are pavement candidates for interventions that should seek to recover functional capacity, such as improving comfort or sliding conditions.
In addition, about 3.5% of the national road network requires minor rehabilitation, while another 3.3% requires interventions with a greater impact and 4.2% requires total reconstruction.
According to the study, the routes that show “greater fragility” due to lack of maintenance are concentrated in the Greater Metropolitan Area (GAM), where there is also the highest density of roads and vehicles in the country, conditions that would accelerate deterioration already identified.
As of 2019
Although the impact of the abandonment of the network was not measured after the expiration of the conservation contracts last February, the experts concluded that from 2019 the functional condition of the road network in the face of “do nothing” or “zero” practices maintenance ”highlighted the susceptibility of national roads, by showing in the short term problems of superficial deterioration, which translate into effects on users due to damage to vehicles, high fuel consumption and reduced operating speeds”.
This mismanagement of the road network was pointed out by the experts, according to which 25% of the paved road network shows “great fragility” so it is urgent to implement a new pavement system, which considers both the structural condition and the condition of functional roads.
“The data shown reveals that, although the maintenance activities were reactivated, the practices that have been applied in the road network through a maintenance model by quantities, still have an important opportunity for improvement, as maintenance activities continue to be implemented. maintenance on routes that need to be rehabilitated or reconstructed,” concludes the study.
The Consejo Nacional de Vialidad (Conavi) – National Highway Council, which is in the midst of the largest public works corruption scandal, “Caso Cochinilla” that involves bribes and irregularities with two of the country’s major road builders, MECO and H. Soli – announced since the end of September that it would resume conservation work, initially through small contracts by zones.
Along these lines, tenders for tasks such as patching or cleaning of gutters began to be published, however, these tenders have not been completed and there is no certainty when other more complex rehabilitation work could be resumed.