San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

New public works chief touts year of accomplishments

The Costa Rican government has invested more than ¢ 360 billion (about $638 million) on infrastructure and transportation projects in 2009, which is nearly 10 times the amount spent in 2005, Public Works and Transport Minister Marco Vargas said Friday during a year-in-review presentation.

“I would grade the infrastructure sector for 2009 using the formula of its contribution and assistance to the economic situation,” Vargas said.

He explained that the Public Works and Transport Ministry´s (MOPT) total expenditure accounted for 2.15 percent of Costa Rica´s gross domestic product (GDP).

Vargas detailed the improvements made to Costa Rican roadways, airports, trains and ports. He said more than 7,200 kilometers of national roadways have been paved in 2009, stressing a 42 km stretch of road between Quepos and Dominical in the central Pacific region whose completion is expected sometime in the first three months of next year.

Vargas also commented on the near completion of the Caldera Highway, which will stretch 77 km from the town of Escazú, southwest of San José, to the Port of Caldera, on the central Pacific coast. The road is expected to be finished by July 2010.

MOPT says investment contributed to the ports of Limón and Moín in 2009 totaled $800 million.

However, the minister sidestepped some of the recent dark spots in MOPT´s recent history, including the controversy over the environmental impact of the Caldera Highway work and overdue bridge repairs. A bridge close to the town of Orotina, near the central Pacific coast, collapsed in October, killing five people and causing an uproar that forced the former MOPT chief, Karla González, to resign.

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