Two bridges currently under construction on a southern section of the Circunvalación – a belt route around the center of San José – were built with flawed cement, experts from the University of Costa Rica’s National Structural Materials and Models Laboratory (LANAMME) announced following a much-anticipated inspection on Wednesday.
LANAMME engineers determined that all eight support columns have porosity problems because the concrete mix being used is not homogeneous. These small holes could expose reinforcement rods to the elements, causing them to rust.
The bridges are being built between Hatillo 8 and Pavas, south of the capital, where sewers under the road collapsed last August due to excessive rainfall. A gaping hole caused the closure of two lanes for several days until four Bailey bridges were temporarily erected.
“We were surprised to find that the quality of concrete is not ideal for a new structure, and we will report the situation to the National Roadway Council (CONAVI) so that they take the necessary steps,” engineer Rolando Castillo, coordinator of LANAMME’s Bridge Unit, said.
The report states that the columns “are not at immediate risk due, but defects will reduce (the bridges’) lifespans and repairs will be required in the medium term.”
The document also says that “although the problems encountered are common errors that can occur in any construction project, it is unacceptable that CONAVI was unable to detect them in any of the eight columns.”
The project was awarded in a public bid to private construction company Codocsa/PC at a cost of ₡ 3.1 billion ($6.3 million). Following the LANAMME report, the Public Works and Transport Ministry (MOPT) and CONAVI said they would require Codocsa to respond.
LANAMME approved the remainder of Circunvalación repair projects.
A law passed last year in the Legislative Assembly states that all LANAMME reports regarding public works projects “are binding,” and all recommendations must be implemented.
MOPT earlier this week reported that the bridge projects are 40 percent complete and will be ready by May.