Traffic Police reopened Route 32, Costa Rica’s most important road between the Central Valley and Limón province, at 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday. But at 5 p.m. police announced the road was again closed — for the fourth time since June — as a precaution due to heavy rains in the area.
Vehicle passage was closed at Zurquí tunnel and Traffic Police said the road would remain closed at least until early Wednesday.
“We are making the decision to close the road preemptively as rains affecting the area could pose a risk to motorists,” Traffic Police Director Mario Calderón said on Tuesday evening. “We are removing some debris from the road and cleaning the area,” he said.
On Tuesday evening the National Emergency Commission (CNE) raised the Yellow (Preventive) Alert to Red or Maximum Alert for Limón province and the canton of Sarapiquí, in northern Heredia province, and for Turrialba, in Cartago province.
According to CNE’s most recent report, a total of 1,057 people are currently being housed at 13 shelters in those three provinces.
Public Works and Transport Ministry (MOPT) officials are expecting more landslides and therefore more road closures throughout the rainy season that runs from May through November in Costa Rica.
“We are in the rainiest month of the year and considering the history of rainfall we usually have in this area, this situation is very likely to keep happening,” Calderón said.
A National Meteorological Institute forecast on Tuesday evening stated that high rainfall levels in the area would continue during July and August, “and occasionally will result in strong storms capable of causing more flooding and landslides.”
Following the Route 32 closure announcement, MOPT Emergency Response Director David Meléndez said workers would continue cleaning debris from landslides and diverting traffic according to each situation. MOPT officials ruled out expanding the road or building more tunnels because of high costs.