The Ruta 32, the highway to the Caribbean port of Limon is open again, thanks to frantic effort of the Ministry of Public Works (MOPT) crews. But it should surprise no one that the highway planning agency (Conavi) was warned of the impending disaster before it happened and ignored the flag-waving.
At 9 p.m. Friday, workers reopened the route after filling in a gaping hole 50 feet deep, 120 long and 70 feet wide, caused by the rushing flood waters of the Parismina River. The route that ftransports 80% of the country’s production to export markets was thus restored.
The route beteen Guacima and Pocora was closed Wednesday after heavy rains early in the week. Repairs required Herculean efforts (and millions of colones overtime) but early Saturday, MOPT engineers were inspecing the reopened highway to see if the fill would hold against the current.
As a demonstration of how important is this route, 80 big trucks were waiting for passage over the river on the San Jose side and another 50 waited on the Limon side. Six exhausted Traffic Police stayed at the site overnight, directing passage over the repair and keeping an eagle eye on the safety of the repair.
David Melendez, chief of MOPT’s emergency section, thanked God that the river did not rise more and the repairs seemed to be holding against the water. This is one of 10 crucial routes, reported La Nacion, that suffered damage due to heavy rains.
The news that the University of Costa Rica’s materials and structures laboratory (Lanamme) had warned against the vulnarability of the approach to the bridge over the Parismina. The lab is officially an advisor of CONAVI and MOPT but both agencies insist in deprecating their counsel.
Cost of the repairs were some 150 million colones in the Parismina passage alone. Fortunately, no injuries have been suffered by motorists, buses or semi-trailers when collapses of highways have occurred in the past two years but this, like Russian roulette, has been pure blind luck.
Luis Guillermo Loria, chief of Lanamme’s Transport Engineering Program, told La Nacion that the Prismina collapse would not have occurred if this river passage had been a part of the prevention program. Lanamme has its sights on vulnerable sections of the Interamerican Highway both north and south of San Jose and other routes including the Circunvalacion that already is cut while crews work feverishly.
Eddy Baltodano, head of the Atlantic slope side of Conavi, said he was unaware of the warning report on the Parismina crossing but admitted that the agency has no coherent record of current condidtions of roads and bridges, even the 200 passages of water under bridges, culverts and drains..
Article by iNews.co.cr