The road agency closed down the westbound lanes of the Circunvalación after morning rush hour Tuesday, and the effect reverberated thought the metro area as motorists tried to find alternate routes. Traffic was snarled in Barrio México, Paseo Colón and in La Uruca as drivers tried out back streets to reach their destination in the west.
The outer westbound lane collapsed Monday because large corrugated pipes below failed, said the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes. The event was a replay of what happened to the General Cañas highway, Ruta 1, in June 2012.
Officials said Tuesday that they closed the westbound lanes at 10 a.m. for safety. They plan to install bailey bridges over the damages area while repair work goes on underneath. The temporary bridges might not be in place until the weekend. The construction firm of Hernán Solís is doing the work 24 hours a day, said the ministry.
A 10-minute trip across town Tuesday at evening rush hour took about an hour, due to the congestion.
A complicating factor was that many motorists are not familiar with the streets in northern San José. There were buses and large trucks, too.
To fix the collapse on the General Cañas, workmen constructed a large concrete vault. The same will have to be done on the Circunvalación after the debris is cleared away and the area is excavated.
Most likely the eastbound lanes also will be diverted so that a new concrete runoff structure can be built under the entire four lanes. The location is along the Río María Aguilar in Hatillo.
The Consejo Nacional de Vialidad said that there were three pipes, each three meters in diameter that were involved. Some were simply crushed by a landslide.
The agency estimates that the whole job will take several months.
The corrugated pipes, some several meters in diameter, were put in when the roadways were built. Considering the effects of corrosion, most are likely to fail soon.