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Travel Alert: Washed-out lane on Inter-American Highway South could be fixed in four weeks

February 3, 2015

Public Works and Transport Ministry (MOPT) officials on Thursday will present the results of a study aimed at providing a solution to the reopening a stretch of the Inter-American Highway South that was washed out in a landslide on Jan. 29, in an area known as the “Cerro de la Muerte.”

MOPT Director of Emergencies David Meléndez said those studies will determine if it is feasible to open a new lane through the mountain’s slope to enable the passage of vehicles.

“Geological and hydraulic studies sought to determine the current status of the slope so that we can calculate how far we can go with a new lane though the mountain’s wall to expand the road,” Meléndez said.

Experts from the National Roadway Council said it would take at least four weeks to reopen passage on the route, while MOPT’s staff conduct geophysical studies and move forward with construction of a new lane.

According to a report by the University of Costa Rica’s National Laboratory of Materials and Structural Models, that stretch of road has at least eight vulnerable points, and there is still a risk of more landslides if weather conditions and heavy rainfall affect the soil.

The collapse of the water-saturated terrain from constant rains completely demolished the outside lane of the highway, and a motorcycle and a car “fell into” the landslide, according to officials. The drivers were unharmed.

For now, motorists needing to travel to the Southern Zone must continue using alternate routes through the communities of Aserrí and Desamparados in San José, and through Corralillo in Cartago. This detour extends travel on average by one hour, MOPT reported.

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