High Court Suspends Controversial Road Project

February 16, 2007

The Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court Sala (IV) has halted a western San José road project that would cut 150 trees to make room for more traffic lanes.

The trees in question line a narrow, heavily trafficked street between the La Universal bookstore and the Agriculture Ministry, on the southern side of the freeway on the south side of La Sabana Park. The project would expand the street from two lanes to four.

After the project was announced late last year, a small group of neighbors and environmentalists protested the plans, calling on the Public Works and Transport Ministry (MOPT) to spare the trees. The Institute for Tropical Architecture – an organization that has been instrumental in recent, major San José urban planning and renewal projects – presented an alternate plan for the same roadway construction that would save the trees (TT, Jan 19).

The Tropical Architecture Institute recommended moving the project toward the business side of the street, rather than cutting the trees, however this was rejected by MOPT planners.

The Vice-Minister of Public Works and Transport, Pedro Castro, told The Tico Times in December that the plans had been altered to save 50 of the trees in response to the protests. He also asserted that the project is “environmentally friendly” and would include planting new trees, possibly in a preserved green area between the widened street and the train tracks, or relocating the existing ones.

The Association for the Preservation of Wild Flora and Fauna (APREFLOFAS) presented an appeal to the Sala IV in December, which was accepted this month. The court ordered MOPT to suspend construction while it reviews the case.

 

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