New Saprissa Bridge to Open in July Without Resolving Route 32 Bottleneck - Expat Community

New Saprissa Bridge to Open in July Without Resolving Route 32 Bottleneck

Apr 29, 2024 | Costa Rica, News & Articles | 0 comments

by Patricia Recio

The new bridge over the Virilla River will be ready in July, as confirmed by authorities from the Ministry of Public Works and Transport (MOPT) and the National Road Council (Conavi) on Friday, following an inspection of the project. Once completed, the structure will have three lanes in each direction (including the bridge built in 2021).

However, in the San José-Limón direction, vehicles will transition from three lanes to just one after exiting the Saprissa Bridge, further exacerbating the bottleneck.

The engineer in charge of the project, Carlos Jiménez, confirmed to this newspaper that the bridge intervention only involves widening the accesses on both sides of the structure, but not beyond these ends.

The plan to expand the next section up to the Doña Lela intersection was conceived during the previous government. However, the works were abandoned after conservation contracts were suspended due to the Cochinilla Case scandal. The current administration resumed work early last year to preserve the investments made and complete some of the slope protection and pavement work.

Within these efforts, the expansion of the segment beyond the bridge towards Limón was not included.

Progress of Works
During the inspection on Friday, the Minister of Public Works, Mauricio Batalla Otárola, stated that the progress on the new bridge is at 75% and it is estimated to be ready in two months.

Batalla indicated that work is currently underway on the construction of the abutment on the Santo Domingo side and continues with the reinforcement of foundations, pillars, and abutments. Additionally, the placement of beams and slabs has commenced.

According to Conavi, the beams have a length of 25.5 meters and weigh close to 48 tons each. Their installation is carried out with closures on the Tibás access ramp, without affecting Route 32 traffic.

Additionally, the demolition of the spans in the superstructure (upper part) was completed, the installation of carbon fiber on the internal and external parts of the box beam was finished, and progress is being made on the construction of concrete cantilevers to expand the bridge deck, which will allow the structure to be widened from 2 to 3 lanes.

In the substructure (lower part of the bridge), construction of abutment 2 (Tibás side) has been completed and work is underway on abutment 1 (Santo Domingo side).

The rehabilitation of the bridge has a cost of $18 million and was entrusted to the company MECO under the supervision of the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS). It is financed with resources from the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (BCIE).

The works include the reinforcement and expansion of the structure’s deck to add an additional lane.

Additionally, the demolition and replacement of the prefabricated double T beams and concrete slabs in the beam spans will be carried out, as well as reinforcement of all pillars and abutments, and their foundations. Supports and joints will be replaced, and seismic stops will be installed.

More than 25,000 vehicles transit daily over this structure, many of which are heavy cargo transport, as the route where the bridge is located corresponds to the country’s main export corridor.


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