Former road boss denies responsibility for troubled highway

The former director of the nation’s road agency denied responsibility for the scandal-ridden Ruta 1856 in northern Costa Rica when he appeared at the legislature Tuesday.

He is Carlos Acosta Monge, an engineer by profession, who was in charge of the Consejo Nacional de Vialidad, which oversaw the construction of the troubled road.

The 99-mile road parallels the Río San Juan and is less than a year old. But bridges are collapsing and there are all sorts of irregularities that are coming to light there.

Acosta told the Comisión Permanente Especial de Control de Ingreso y Gasto Público that he accepted no bribes and that he did nothing of which he is ashamed.

Two inspectors are objects of a criminal investigation. The road was built without bidding as an emergency measure by the Laura Chinchilla administration. The idea was to provide access to the northern area in the face of invasions and threats from Nicaragua. Before the road, the main method of travel was by boat on the river controlled by Nicaragua.

The daily newspaper La Nación has led the reporting on the roadway. The reporting launched the investigations.

Various agencies, including the Tribunal Administrativo Ambiental, have studied the route and reported on excessive cutting of trees and poor grading.

The Tribunal, an environmental enforcement agency, gave the government a short timetable to outline remedial actions. Other reports have said that firms that never did road construction were called in to do the jobs.

The Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes has taken over the job now. The Consejo is an agency within the ministry.

Acosta said that his family was affected by the fallout from the road project and that the road was not a Consejo job.

Lawmakers said the job of the committee is to find out who is responsible for the troubled project.

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