by Oliver Pérez

It seems that the 12 bridges along the road that connects Nicoya with Samara Beach will continue to be ignored by the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation (MOPT). MOPT doesn’t have its eyes on either replacing or fixing them in the near or foreseeable future, as confirmed by the Minister of Public Works and Transportation, Francisco Jiménez.

According to Jimenez, MOPT doesn’t have the budget to intervene. “The country has about 350 priority bridges that really need intervention. Our engineers have been given the assignment of verifying the state of each one,” Jiménez told VON in an interview that took place this past July 25 in Nicoya.
The majority of these are single-lane passages and, for now, MOPT is trying to avoid more accidents and deaths, by equipping them with signage and placement of railings.

For his part, the General Controller of the Republic characterized the work of the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation as “deficient” in attention and maintenance of bridges. The report DFOE-OP-IF-12-2010 maintains that the Ministry has not fulfilled the recommendations issued since 2007, when the Japanese Cooperation (Jica) identified 29 bridges that required urgent attention. “By April 9, 2010, they had only incorporated the data of 61 bridges, of a total of 1,424 in the national road network,” added the control entity. It also criticized that MOPT didn’t completely fulfill the 2008 and 2009 budgets for bridges.

The Bridges- One of the bridges that’s in the worst states is the one over Buena Vista River, which was undermined in 2008 by rising waters as well as cargo trucks that damaged the floor or foundation of the bearings.

The Viceminister of Works, María Lorena López Rosales, said that all of the bridges on the Nicoya-Samara route will be submitted to an inspection by MOPT engineers to evaluate their state, but that these aren’t considered in the $33 million budget that the ministry has for the repair and construction of 29 bridges in the northern Interamerican route.

This 37-kilometer roadway has 12 bridges, which were built more than 35 years ago, at which time the road was gravel and one lane. Years later the road was paved and became two lanes and the viaducts remained one lane, causing many fatal accidents. For example, in 2007 this roadway cost the lives of 8 people on the bridges over the Sapotal river, Belén and Buena Vista, when vehicles fell to the riverbed.

Miguel Gómez, secretary of the Samara Integral Development Association, said in a telephone interview that on July 25, 2007 a letter was submitted to former President Oscar Arias showing the deteriorating situation of the bridges.

“Days later, the President answered me and communicated to me that it was sent to the bridges department, but the issue went no further; it lost the interest of MOPT. Last July 25, I met with the minister Francisco Jiménez and personally told him about the situation; he promised me that he would evaluate the situation because he knows the route and expanding these bridges is necessary. We’ll wait to see what’s going to happen,” the community leader expressed.

The bridges on the way to Nosara aren’t in better shape. The bridge over the river Frío, which had various holes along its span, was repaired by MOPT at the end of April 2010, but four months later, it’s presenting problems again.