On Tuesday morning at 10 a.m., the Public Works and Transport Ministry (MOPT) closed two lanes of the Hatillo-Pavas section of Route 39 in San José after a gaping hole opened on the edge of the busy highway on Sunday.
MOPT Minister Pedro Castro told reporters Tuesday morning at the Casa Presidencial that crews would be working 24 hours a day to install two 55-meter temporary prefabricated bridges to reopen the bridge while crews rebuild the section of road.
Currently, only one lane is open on the highway between San José-Pavas, reserved for cars and emergency vehicles.
Castro said officials hope to have all four lanes reopened with the assistance of prefabricated bridges by the weekend.
“This is something that could happen at any point in our national road system. We have highways that are over 25 years old or more,” said Castro, noting that it was difficult to predict where events like this would happen.
The minister speculated that it could take more than four months to rebuild the collapsed section of highway at a cost of ₡1.5 billion, just under $3 million.
MOPT recommends drivers avoid the Hatillo-Pavas section of Route 39, also known as la Circunvalación, and take alternate routes through northern San José, central San José, and Barrio Mexico.
The section of busy highway collapsed Sunday after heavy rains during the weekend pulled down trees, rocks and earth that blocked three culverts running under the section of highway carrying the María Aguilar River. As the rains continued and the water could not escape, erosion accelerated and eventually created a gap under the road that caved in.
Route 39 is one of the most important highways in the Costa Rican capital, with over 60,000 drivers every day.