QCOSTARICA – It’s been almost 43 years since the Circunvalación (Ruta 39) project, to provide the capital with a peripheral ring road, was started, but never completed. Until now, as only a small bureaucratic stumbling block remains to ensure its completion.
And it will be the same Rodolfo Méndez, now 84 years of age, who will put an end to the task that he began in 1978 the moment the Comptroller’s Office endorses the contract to transform the intersection between Hatillo 7 and 8 into an underpass.
Choosing the company to carry out this work is the last remaining obstacle in the comprehensive program to complete the Circunvalación and eliminate the bottlenecks that condemn users to severe congestion at some points.
The construction of the Circunvalación began in October 1978, during the administration of Rodrigo Carazo (1978-1982), with Méndez, as Minister of Public Works and Transportation (MOPT), in charge of the project.
Méndez also served as MOPT minister from 1998 to 2000 in the administration of Miguel Angel Rodriguez (1998-2002).
At that time, it was decided to leave the northern phase for a next stage that, more than four decades and ten governments later, is months away from being a reality.
Precisely the passage of time and the increase in the vehicle fleet in the country made it also necessary to make improvements to the existing road since the solutions of the late seventies were exceeded many years ago.
With the completion of the north section, the replacement of rotondas (roundabouts) and intersections with traffic lights in Los Hatillos by underpasses will the last updates that have a true, functional circumferential road or beltway to move through traffic away from having to weave through the downtown core.
Méndez did not start the construction of the northern phase as many of the works were in process when he assumed the portfolio in this administration, in 2018. But it was his virtue was to bring together all those scattered efforts and structure a program of integral work to finish once and for all the Circunvalación.
The pending work between Hatillos 7 and 8 has been awarded twice, but the Office of the Comptroller General (CGR) annulled them. Now the administration hopes the third is the charm.
All the other projects of the Circunvalación have already solved the bureaucratic procedures and are at different levels of progress. If the deadlines established in the contracts are met, they will be ready in less than two years.
This is will be one year after Mendez leaves office unless he is asked by the incoming administration to stay on.
This time around there is optimism that the CGR will stamp the last approvals. For example, last month the Comptroller’s Office gave permission to complete the last kilometer of the northern phase between Route 32 and Calle Blancos.
Likewise, in April a dispute was resolved between the Comptroller’s Office and Conavi that had paralyzed the construction of the section that the Estrella – H Solís companies are developing after the inspection contract expired and was not renewed on time.
And that same month they also began the designs of the overpass in Hatillo 4, while in March they had started those of the overpass in Hatillo 6.
Added to this is the fact that in January work began to build an underpass at the La Bandera rotonda and that the expansion to ten lanes of the intersection between Route 1 and the Circunvalación is about to begin, at the height of the Monumento al Agua.
All these projects are part of a comprehensive plan that seeks to provide a solution that allows the more than 80,000 drivers who use the Circunvalación to travel at speeds of up to 80 km/h, on average.
This program also included the already inaugurated overpasses over the Garantías Sociales and Guadalupe rotondas.