Projects for roads, bridges announced by government

Map shows route of proposed northern highway. Map: Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes

Tonight is the inauguration of the national stadium built by the People’s Republic of China.

As if to deflect criticism, the Chinchilla administration announced a series of road and bridge projects Thursday. The central government had been criticized for accepting the stadium and not using the Chinese generosity to fix the roads.

Some of the projects announced by the central government already had been announced.

Two new ones include:

The approval of 22 contracts to fix some 4,300 kilometers (2,604 miles) of national highways subject to approval of the Contraloría de la República.

A project to construct some 32 smaller bridges in the northern zone and the Caribbean coast as well as fixing and rehabilitating bridges in urban areas. This is a 17.2 billion colon series of projects, about $34.8 million.

The central government reannounced the construction of a new highway from Bajos de Chilamate to Vuerta Kooper and the widening of the Cañas-Liberia highway from two lanes to four. This is the Interamericana Norte. The government also announced the resumption of the San Carlos highway, a 102.5 billion colon project, some $207 million. This was the project that ground to a halt when former president Óscar Arias Sánchez dumped Taiwan in favor of the People’s Republic as a diplomatic partner. Taiwan was building the highway, which is partly graded.

In all the projects will cost some 250 billion colons or about $505 million. These three projects had been announced earlier in the week.

The new highway from Bajos de Chilamate, just west of Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí runs west some 27 kilometers (about 17 miles). The project will reduce dramatically the transportation time in the northern zone. The current route between the two points is 87 kilometers or about 54 miles.

The project would connect the region around San Carlos and points west with the Caribbean coast without the need to pass through the Central Valley. Officials said the project would be a boost to tourism in the area. The highway, which may be constructed within two years, passes through the cantons of San Carlos, Grecia and Sarapiquí. About 50 percent of the property already has been purchased, said the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes.

The highway will connect with Ruta 32, the San José-Limón route, at Bajos de Chilamate. Much of the preliminary design work already as been done.

Some 14 bridges or culverts will have to be constructed over exiting waterways.

The project to construct 32 bridges is part of a larger plan to building 70 bridges, the first step in a central government commitment to construct a total of 200. These are small bridges that are expected to take about three months each to build. They are from 12 to 40 meters, some 40 to 131 feet. Most are one-lane in rural areas.

In addition, the Consejo Nacional de Vialidad will be repairing bridges over the ríos Aranjuez and Abangares and at the Río Azufrado on the Interamericana Norte, Río Puerto Nuevo and Río Nuevo in Paso Canoas. Other bridges being repaired and rebuilt are over the Río Chirripó on Ruta 4 between Río Frio and Sarapiquí, the Río Sucio on Ruta 32, the San José-Limón highway, and in Guadalupe in the metro area.

Some 19 bridge projects will be on the Interamericana Norte between Cañas and Liberia where the highway is being widened.

The project to repair the highways involves many contractors. Basically the firms will fill potholes, reasphalt, if necessary and do other work that they find to be needed. First they will take inventories of the stretches and present them to the ministry. One of the jobs seeks to rebuild the highway that connects a highway in Limón province with the area around Isla Calero where Costa Rica is having a border dispute with Nicaragua.

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