Q COSTA RICA – The headache called “la platina” that began in April 2009 and turned to a complete nightmare a few months ago, leaving drivers to endure temporary closures, regulated passage and endless congestion on the autopista General Cañas, and the alternate roads, will soon come to end.
So says the Ministry of Public Works and Transport (MOPT).
The ‘platina’ has been a thorn on the side of drivers and three governments, when 8 years ago a four inch gap between one of the expansion joints was noticed. Attempts to repair the bridge that has a vehicular traffic volume of more than 90,000 vehicles daily, failed. Badly.
In the failed repair attempts, steel plates (platinas in Spanish) were used to temporary plug up gaping holes on the road surface of the structure that was built in the 1960s and suffering from wear and tear, excessive vibration, traffic volume more than 3 times its original design and from what no one can argue, a couple of decades neglect by transportation authorities.
The current government undertook to end the problem once and for all, decidint with the reconstruction of a new bridge. However, tearing down the old to replace it with a new was impossible, thus the new bridge has to constructed around the old.
The bridge is only one of three routes into and out San Jose from the west. The other routes are the Ruta 27 and road from Cariari to La Uruca.
The bridge is an integral part of the General Cañas the major route from the international airport to and from San Jose. Once a four lane highway (two lanes in each direction), it was converted into six lanes by making the lanes narrower and eliminating the shoulders. But the three bridges (La Uruca, Platina and Rio Segundo) remained four lanes.
According to the MOPT timetable, in the next few days the deck of the Alajuela – San Jose half of the bridge will get its asphalt base, and by the middle of the month the three lanes will be open to traffic.
Then, the 170 construction crew will begin work on the San Jose – Alajuela half, to complete the remaining three lanes.
When complete, expected by April 30, the ‘platina’ bridge, which has already has an official name, the Alfredo González Flores, will become a six lane bridge and we can expect say goodbye to the congestion.
Andres Muñoz, MOPT engineer in charge of the project, said the work on the “superstructure” is 60% complete, crews are continuing work on the surface, while the bottom portion of the bridge is complete.
According to Muñoz, the work in the coming days (on the Alajuela – San Jose side of the bridge) includes an asphalt deck and the installation of metal joints, key to the project, work that will be supervised by an expert from the U.S.
“It has to be exact, it is a matter of millimeters, it has to be perfect. We do not want to repeat the past,” said Muñoz. “The elements are important from a structural point…their placement is delicate and that is where the foreign expert will hep us”.
Now you know. It doesn’t help with the “presas” (congestion) daily, hopefully it may offer some comfort that all the frustrations lived daily will be for something.
Source: MOPT; La Nacion