Another mishap on Autopista Cañas closes eastbound lanes

A self-propelled crane estimated at 85 tons rests awkwardly on the stressed bailey bridge on the Autopista Cañas. Consejo Nacional de Vialidad photo

An 85-ton crane collapsed a bailey bridge on the troubled Autopista General Cañas Tuesday evening, and the eastbound lanes will be closed for at least a week.

The accident happened above a worksite where a new drainage system is being installed. Workmen already had placed arches of concrete below the four bailey bridges that carry east and westbound traffic.

José Luis Salas, executive director of the Consejo Nacional de Vialidad, said that workmen will not try to salvage the bailey bridge. Instead, they will begin the job of backfilling the drainage system site and bringing the soil up to highway level.

The Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes said that the crane weighs more than twice the safe limit for the temporary bridge. That limit was 40 tons.

When the older drainage system gave way because of a severe storm and damage by a tree trunk, a hole began to develop
in the westbound lanes of the highway at this location.

The hole quickly earned the name crater and became the subject of many jokes.

In order to fix the problem, workmen had to remove all the soil under the highways. That is why the temporary bailey bridges were installed. There was one for each of the four lanes.

Traffic police will be assisting in detouring eastbound traffic for a week. Special detour routes will be established for heavy vehicles.

The General Cañas is the main route between San José and Alajuela. It also is the route that leads to Juan Santamaría airport.

Meanwhile, transport officials still are wrestling with the eroding of concrete on a bridge that spans the Río Virilla.

That troubled bridge has caused the closing of the same highway several times.

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