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Bike Path, Train Dreams Drifting Off Course

December 8, 2006

The long-proposed commuter train between San José and Heredia, about 10 kilometers north of the capital, looks uncertain, as no eligible company bid on the operating concession and the Costa Rican Railroad Institute (INCOFER) doesn’t have the money, the daily La Nación reported.

The train is one of two projects facing uncertainty, despite an offer of $3.8 million from the European Union to fund these and other elements of the “Urban Recovery Project” for the improvement of San José.

The other project, a bike path between the downtown Pacific Train Station and Freses de Curridabat, east of San José, was also discarded this week because of lack of bids from builders, as well as insurance problems.

INCOFER planned to use approximately $788,000 in European funds to reactivate train service to Heredia (TT, Dec. 1). To get the money, however, the state institution must come up with matching funds by the end to the year.

INCOFER’s president,Miguel Carabaguíaz, couldn’t be reached for comment by press time, but his secretary told The Tico Times the month-long solicitation period for private concessionaires closed at the end of November without eligible participants.

INCOFER still hopes to secure the European Union funds and complete the project, though it might take longer than planned, Carabaguíaz’s office said. Previous projections put the opening date in March of 2007.

According to La Nación, Housing Minister Fernando Zumbado said he would ask the European Union not to cancel its donation for the railroad project.

Eduardo Brenes, director of the Metropolitan Area Regional and Urban Program (PRUGAM) – the organization overseeing the bike path effort – told the daily only one construction company has bid for the contract, with a budget that exceeds the program’s parameters.

In addition, INCOFER, which owns the rail lines parallel to which the bike path was to be built, has demanded that an insurance policy protect the cyclists, but the National Insurance Institute (INS) offers no such policy.

 

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