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A.M. Costa Rica
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San José, Costa Rica, Weekend Edition
September 22, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 189
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Oscar Vargas clinic

Bill would allow Conavi to fix infrastructure issues
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Consejo Nacional de Vialidad is apparently not allowed to repair or replace minor problems on Costa Rican roads as immediately or efficiently as it would like.

The Ley 7798 that created Conavi in the first place is undergoing some reforms within the Costa Rican legislature. One of the those reforms would be to allow the institution to invest in construction or repair projects of a smaller scale such as crack and seal or pothole filling.

According to a statement from the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes, the reforms have been approved in its first debate by the deputies.

Under the current legal system, the development of these kind of rapid interventions is complicated as it is not technically considered to fall under Conavi’s boundaries of “road conservation,” said Mario Durán, the deputy minister of Reformas y Proyectos.

In addition to this, if resources are invested on credit or other alternative source of funding, it requires a long process to justify such an investment.

Durán emphasized that the rapid interventions often don’t pass the test despite the punctual and positive impact they have.

“Among these minor works that can be executed, from the legal reform, are the construction of bus bays, the improvement of crossings, the widening of roads to include a turn lane, and the repair of any signs or infrastructure damaged during a traffic accident among others,” Conavi said in a statement.

The bill seeks to reform the Conavi law to modify the definition of road conservation to specifically include these types of projects.

In the interest of saving money as well as the bill, however, it also works to limit the percentage of funds that can be used for these types of renovations.

Sixaola bridge
Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes photo    
Engineers are worried that many bridges may collapse like the Sixaola bridge, pictured here, if left alone.
Engineers calling bridges a national emergency
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Colegio Federado de Arquitectos e Ingenieros has proposed to declare the poor condition of the bridges of Costa Rica as a national emergency, a measure that would allow access to a national emergency fund and thus, make immediate repairs.

"Most of them have already completed their cycle," said Olman Vargas, tthe Colegio's executive director.

"These are bridges that need to be rehabilitated or repaired, since that is where the socioeconomic development of the country goes."

Although the country does not have an accurate record of its number of bridges, experts say that around 1,200 existing structures lack maintenance works or reconstruction.
According to the Colegio, 85 percent of the structures are in poor or very poor condition.

Vargas said they have already requested the declaration of emergency, but the government commission in charge explained that these funds can only be used once the emergency has already happened.

In the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes, authorities have recognized that intervention in these structures represents a great debt from the government.

This is likely a debt that cannot be paid given the government’s current crisis of trying to figure out how to fund itself let along any future development works.

They said in the coming weeks  that they will  make urgent inspections of six bridges will take place.

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