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Costa Rica installed railroad crossings; one damaged within hours

December 20, 2018

Driving in Costa Rica can be notoriously difficult. Motorcyclists weave in and out of lanes, people pass with reckless abandon on hills and curves, and blocking traffic seems completely acceptable so long as you turn on your four-ways.

And don’t get us started on the infrastructure, which has been rendered wholly inadequate by the recent explosion of vehicles in Costa Rica. (Not that unpainted roads that can’t quite fit two lanes of traffic are safe regardless of the amount of traffic.)

The Public Works and Transport Ministry (MOPT) does have several ongoing — if slow-moving — projects to help improve Costa Rica’s struggling road infrastructure. Among them is a network of grade crossing signals with gates to help prevent collisions between vehicles and trains.

MOPT promoted the features of its new railroad crossings on social media. Via MOPT on Facebook

MOPT inaugurated the first set of these railroad crossings Monday morning to great fanfare featuring television cameras and an appearance from President Carlos Alvarado.

Within six hours, a reckless driver had blown through one of the intersections, knocking over the gate and rendering it inoperable until a MOPT team came to reinstall it promptly. The person in question was fined 52,227 colones (about $85) and will also be billed for repairs.

Elsewhere this week, several of the crossings have been impacted or damaged as a result of carelessness and vandalism, according to the President.

“The gates are there to save lives and keep us safe,” he wrote. “Let’s take care of them!”

The incidents promoted this public-relations statement from MOPT, which concluded with a bolded plea to drivers:

“From MOPT and COSEVI, a call is made to everyone who shares the road with trains to be attentive to these types of devices, placed in order to save lives,” the statement read, “and above all to stop at the crossing when a train approaches, which on average constitutes a wait of just 30 seconds.”

From all of us at The Tico Times: Remember that even if you blow through a railroad crossing, you’re bound to hit traffic or a suspension-rattling pothole shortly thereafter anyway. And being 30 seconds later to your destination will put you right on time — a la hora tica.

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