Automation proposed to track overweight vehicles

Roadway and infrastructure regulators plan to implement an automated weigh-station system on several major roadways.

The Consejo Nacional de Vialidad announced Thursday that it will invest 8.7 billion colons or about $17.4 million in the system over five years, using services from the public Internet service provider Radiográfica Costarricense S.A., known as RACSA.

The Consejo will start by building stations on the Autopista General Cañas, which officials plan to have in operation by February, according to a press release from the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes.

Consejo officials said that the automated system will eliminate the need for employees to staff weigh stations as well as the possibility that corrupt employees will let overweight vehicles pass.

Officials noted said that the Consejo collected about 300 million colons in fines in 2011, but spent about 71 billion colons to repair roads.

The Consejo estimates that it could have collected nearly 2 billion colons last year with automatic weigh stations, according to the press release.

The announcement came just over two weeks after a bailey bridge collapsed on Autopista General Cañas when a driver tried to cross it with an 84-ton crane.

At that time construction crews had nearly completed the repairs on that section of the highway, which had collapsed into a sinkhole in June.

The Consejo said that the automatic weigh stations will be equipped with cameras that can detect heavy vehicles. These cameras will take photos of license plates on the trucks which will automatically be sent to police. Eventually, the system will send fines to owners of the vehicles directly through email, the press release said.

Vehicles that pull into the weigh station and are found to be overweight will also receive fines, and will be kept at the station until another vehicle arrives to take some of the load off.

The Consejo will start by upgrading the weigh stations on Autopista General Cañas on the way into San José as well as stations in Búfalo in Limón. Next, the Consejo will upgrade stations in Esparza and Ochomogo going towards San José. These stations will be upgraded by February, officials said.

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