150 more bridges will get basic inspections this year

The nation’s road agency has firmed up plans for bridge inspections by experts from the Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica. The first basic inspections will be 44 bridges in Guanacaste, 39 in Puntarenas, 16 in Alajuela, four in San José, 17 in Cartago and five in Heredia, said the Consejo Nacional de Vialidad.

In addition to basic inspections, the agreement between the university and the road agency calls for three detailed inspections every four months.

The first set of detailed inspections will be of the bridge on the General Cañas highway over the Río Virilla, one in Tibás, a bridge over the Río Colorado in Grecia and a bridge over the Río Tempisque in Cañas.

The university will collect $556,000 in 2014 for the work.

A similar series of studies is being done by the Laboratorio Nacional de Materiales y Modelos Estructurales of the Universidad de Costa Rica.

That contract calls for inspection of some 1,300 bridges and is worth $7.9 million.

Despite the inspections, there is no guarantee that bridges will be repaired. The Consejo said that the results will be entered into a data base to provide information for planning repairs.

Bridges have been a problem for the Laura Chinchilla administration. Perhaps the most long-running problem is the Río Virilla bridge on the General Cañas, the so-called platina bridge. The steel plating over the expansion joint keeps popping up, and extensive efforts to fix it have proved ineffective.

There have been efforts since 2009 to fix the bridge, but officials now say that the bridge structure is too flexible to support the concrete and steel deck.

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