Q COSTA RICA – It was 12:17 pm Wednesday. On the phone with his boss, President Luis Guillermo Solis, the Minister of Obras Publicas y Transportes (MOPT), Carlos Villalta, got the green light to officially open the Alfredo González Flores, better known as the “Platina”, bridge.
Solis was in Ecuador to attend the inauguration of that country’s new president, Lenin Moreno. It wouldn’t be until Wednesday night that the President would be able to see the new, finished bridge, for himself, crossing it on his way from the airport to his home on the east side of San Jose.
The opening was to have occurred today, May 25. However, during the morning inspection, Minister Villalta determined that the main works on the structure were already finished, the bridge could be opened. All he needed was the Presidential blessing.
Villalta decided to call Solis instead of waiting for his return in the evening. With television cameras rolling and the cellular phone on speaker, Solis gave his minister the OK.
“Today, on Wednesday, May 24, we enthusiastically opened the 6 lanes of the new Alfredo González Flores Bridge, after 10 years of delays and repairs. I thank each of the workers who made it possible, who struggled day and night under the sun or rain. And to all of you, thank you very much for your patience and for allowing us to fulfill our duty. At last!”, was the message posted shortly after the call on President’s official Facebook page.
It was in 2009 when a structural fault was detected, a 10 centimeter (4 inch) gap between one of the expansion joints. Promises, millions of colones, three administration, several contractors and countless repairs had to take place before the current government decided it was time to fix the bridge once and for all.
No more repairs. No more reinforcements. No more work and waste of colones for something that would not take. Or last, as it was for the last 9 years.
The decision was made to construct a new bridge from the existing, with crews working from the ground up and around the original structure, to create the six-lane bridge.
But, now that the Platina headache is out of the way, it does not mean the end of traffic congestion on the autopista Genera Cañas, for there still is the problem of the Juan Pablo II and the Rio Seugndo bridges.
Both the Juan Pablo II in La Uruca and Rio Segundo by the Cerverceria are four-lane bridges (two each direction) on an autopista that is now six lanes in between. The bottleneck on the San Jose side will be shifted a few hundred meters east; on the Alajuela side, nothing changes.