New span at tragic spot finally opened to traffic

Highway officials said Thursday that a new bridge over the Río Grande de Tarcoles is open to traffic. Construction took 16 months and 2 billion colons, about $4 million.

The bridge replaces a hanging structure that collapsed under the weight of a bus Oct. 22, 2009, and killed five persons.

The new bridge is two lanes and over metal. It is 125 meters long, some 410 feet. There also is a pedestrian walkway. The span connects Orotina and Turrubares. The highway is Ruta 137.

The bus mishap was not part of the announcement about the bridge by the Consejo Nacional de Vialidad. The deaths sparks a review of the nation’s bridges and was a serious blemish on the administration of Óscar Arias Sánchez. The political problem became worse when local officials revealed that they had begged for repairs or replacement of the bridge.

The span had starred a year earlier in a Channel 7 in a “60 Minutes”-like presentation of terrible bridges. Even the bus involved in the crash was the feature of a television news sequence when a tire fell through the aging deck of the bridge and mechanics had to use hydraulic jacks to extricate it.

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