Oh no! Not more woes at the Río Virilla bridge

The Río Virilla bridge has made transport officials laughing stocks for the last year.

This is the bridge on the Autopista General Cañas that has resisted repairs. At one time there was a metal plate over an expansion joint. Try as they may workmen could not secure the metal plate to the rest of the bridge. The metal jumped around, and motorists generally slowed down to cross that section.

Eventually newscasters, reporters and then average Costa Ricans began calling the plate and the bridge platina, the little plate. That is the diminutive form of plato, and there is a touch of scorn in the usage.

At least three times workmen closed off part of the bridge to reattach the metal plate. Usually the repair lasted about six to 12 hours.

Soon there was YouTube mockery of the plate. El Diario Extra sent out some models wearing hardhats, tool belts and not much else for a front page photo. That caused a traffic jam at the bridge, too.

Finally the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes had enough. They announced they were closing down the entire highway to fix the bridge. They did so just after Christmas, and the traffic jams were historic. Slowly the bridge was reopened. First two lanes and then more.

Workmen ripped up the entire bridge deck and applied a fresh layer of concrete.

Not being content with bridge repair, highway officials installed a bus only lane that became a trap for many passenger car drivers.

The repair was not without cost. A highway worker died one Friday night when a car hit him and the driver fled. That case still is being prosecuted.

Now just when the bridge is to become fully operation, there are more problems. Some 10 percent of the concrete used in the bridge deck appears to be suspect.

María Lorena López, a vice minister, visited the bridge site Thursday and met with Soares Da Costa, the contracting firm, and representatives from Cemex, the concrete company, and the company that supplied the rebar. She was reported to say that solutions were being sought to repair the problem and that the government has not yet accepted the work.

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