Costa Rica’s Caldera highway called unstable

May 28, 2010

The Costa Rican Association of Engineers and Architects announced Monday that “urgent intervention” is needed to improve the newly opened Caldera – San José highway.

The route, which cuts driving time between the capital and the Pacific coast to 45 minutes, was opened in January, 35 years after it was first proposed.
 
Among the findings of a report released by the association, which was finished in May, is that the roadway requires shoring up to avoid mudslides in the rainy season.
 
“Engineers observed good number of problems relating to stability along the route,” reads the report, pointing to risk factors such as steep slopes, poor quality of materials and susceptibility to erosion. The organization said the route puts travelers in danger unnecessarily.
 
“It’s a question of time before a mass of materials drops (near Atenas), provoking the closure of the roadway for several days, along with the destruction of barriers that have already been installed,” reads the report.
 
Up until now, government action in fixing the route has been “passive,” according to the engineers, but President Laura Chinchilla told the daily La Nación that repairs to the Caldera highway are a priority for her.
 
The association recommends undertaking a detailed analysis of indentified risk sites, installing an automated system for monitoring weather conditions, installing an early-warning system, maintaining a system to monitor problem areas and improving signage.
 
Mudslides have already caused several injuries and one death on the route.
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