Virilla bridge work delayed to last weekend of month

Motorists will get a break this weekend because the Río Virilla bridge will not be closed, according to the transport ministry.

The bridge was closed last weekend and traffic chaos developed on the Autopista General Cañas and its detours.

The Ministry de Obras Públicas y Transportes said that the first phase of the bridge repair had been completed. Of 408 reinforcement grids installed in the bridge deck, some 40 were cleaned of about an inch of faulty concrete. The concrete crumbled rapidly after traffic resumed on the bridge.

Still officials do not know why the concrete failed. Some had only been down for three weeks.

The bridge will be closed the weekend of March 27, officials said. Part of the jam over the weekend was Central Valley residents trying to attend an auto show in San Antonio de Belén. The show ends next weekend.

Ministry officials insist that the concrete was tested properly before it was put down. They have enlisted the aid of the Laboratorio Nacional de Materiales y Modelos Estructurales at the Universidad de Costa Rica for help. They also said Monday that samples will be sent to L.B. Foster Co. in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the maker of the metal grid.

The concrete problem resembles a failure caused by the use of polluted water in the mix.

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