Thursday 1 December 2022

Why are there so many potholes in the roads of Costa Rica?

MOPT estimates that 80% of the road network has problems

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QCOSTARICA – The Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes (MOPT) – Ministry of Public Works and Transportation, estimates that 80% of the national road network has serious pavement problems and that create more potholes.

The potholes of Costa Rica

According to the Laboratorio Nacional de Materiales y Modelos Estructurales (LanammeUCR) – National Laboratory of Materials and Structural Models, 99% of the roads are built with an asphalt mix.

Experts point out that roads built with flexible pavements, as it is also known, provide long-term service (last longer) only if they receive maintenance.

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However, in Costa Rica for the past two years, no road maintenance contracts have been awarded, effectively leaving roads “abandoned”, and the main reason for the potholes.

This is a direct result of the “cochinilla” corruption case ongoing at the Conavi, the national roads council, a division of the MOPT in charge, among other things, awarding contracts for road works.

Read more: “Cochinilla” case affects construction of road works and maintenance

“When roads are built for a period of 15-20 years and maintenance is not given, accelerated deterioration begins,” said Roy Barrantes, an engineer at Lanamme.

A caricature poking fun at Costa Rica’s potholes during the official by U.S. President Barack Obama in 2012.

After a study published by the Lanamme in December 2020, it is noted that 1,382 kilometers of roads, equivalent to 26% of the roads network, were in a fragile condition.

At that time the cost of the investment in to fix the roads had been estimated at ¢235 billion.

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Among the major reasons for potholes on the roads, when combined with no maintenance, are: vehicle loads, weather conditions (rain and sun), sinkholes, and earthquakes.

Another important factor that affects the useful life of a road is adequate drainage mechanisms, that when not existent (as in many roads in the country) and with no maintenance, is the perfect combination for deteriorated roads.


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