TICOBULL – Last week, both the Ruta 27 (the San José – Caldera) and the Ruta 32 (San José – Limón) were severely affected by heavy rains, poor planning, construction and management. Fortunately, this time, there were no casualties.
So, over the weekend I started to think about the commonalities of the roads and this morning came across a “Poliédrica” (polyhedral, which according to the dictionary is of, pertaining to, or having the shape of a polyhedron) article by Andi Mirom in the online Spanish news source, El Pais.
Using Mirom’s observations, I made my own list of what these two highways – sorry, roads – have in common:
One, both roads were opened by governments headed by Oscar Arias Sánchez, albeit some 20 years apart. So, is it just a coincidence that both roads have proven to be poorly built, traffic is constantly interrupted for landslides and rock falling onto the roadway. My intention is not to lay the blame on Mr. Arias, rather, just pointing out a public fact.
The second is that both the 27 and 32 connect the centre of the country, San José and the Central Valley, the engine of the country’s economy to the two most important ports, the Pacific port of Caldera and the Caribbean port of Limón.
The third is that in both cases they have slopes built at sharp angles, poorly engineering and constructed. Was this done to save money at the expense of public safety?
The fourth is that in both projects, more than two decades apart, the final cost was higher that originally budgeted. In the case of the 32, the Ecuadorian company, “Monolítica” obtained a US$39 million dollar loan, then went bankrupt and leaving the country to pick up the tab of ¢2.541 billion colones. The 27 was originally awarded to “Autopistas del Valle”, that was never able to obtain financing, was finally built by a sister company, “Autopistas del Sol” and at US$370 million dollars, three times the original. Autopistas now calls itself “Globalvia”.
The fifth is that both roads were designed in the 1970s, a time when there were few cars in Costa Rica. For example, my 1975 Toyota Landcruiser’s license plate is “1972”, meaning in 1975 there were less than 2.000 registered cars in the country. Today the vehicular fleet is well over 1 million, yet both the 27 and 32, for the most part, are two lane roads that were designed four decades ago. My Toyota is in better condition.
The sixth point is that both roads lead in traffic fatalities.
I suppose I could go on, but what is the point?
Being optimistic I would like to think that a lesson has been learned, using the 27 and 32 as clear examples of what not do to when it comes to actually building the San Ramðn and new roads in the future. However, the fatalist in me, says it will be very unlikely.
I remember in my early days in Costa Rica, I was constantly reminded “this is Costa Rica and this is how we do things here.”
Diay! Pura Vida, Mae!