Manager blames bad weather for Autopista del Sol woes

The general manager of the Autopista del Sol appeared before a legislative committee Tuesday and said that it was natural forces and not bad construction that caused problems with the new highway. He also denied that there were political forces at work that speeded up the project.

The general manager is Cristian Sandoval. He was before a commission that is investigating the concessions awarded by the government. The Laboratorio Nacional de Materiales y Modelos Estructurales of the Universidad de Costa Rica has issued a report that said the highway has sections that are dangerous for the public.

The highway runs from Parque la Sabana to Caldera and is considered a key factor in the future development on the central Pacific. Travel time to places like Jacó have been cut to 90 minutes from a previous two to three hours.

Sandoval dismissed the critique from the laboratory as an
opinion. The laboratory said there were places where the ground slumped and that there were cracks in the asphalt and some of the road covering was peeling off.

José María Villalta Florez-Estrada, a legislative deputy, suggested that there might have been bad management in the construction process.

The highway also has been plagued by landslides, and a woman motorcycle passenger died because the vehicle hit a boulder that had rolled on the road.

Sandoval said that the highway was completed sooner because 2009 was a year with good weather. Some have suggested that the roadway was opened prematurely because then-president Óscar Arias Sánchez wanted to inaugurate it before he left office. Sandoval rejected that idea. The highway is apolitical, he said.

He blamed all the problems associated with the highway on the heavy rains that hit the country after the highway opened last year.

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