San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rica sees series of new public works

Perhaps honoring a long-standing tradition of outgoing presidents seeking to sway the vote in favor of their party´s candidate, President Oscar Arias has been piling up the ribbon-cutting ceremonies before the Feb. 7 presidential election.

On Wednesday, he opened the San José-Caldera Highway, a road connecting the capital to the coast, which has been in the works for more than 30-years. The new highway was expected to reduce travel time to the coast to 45 minutes.

However, heavy traffic caused by motorists clogged the highway this weekend, rendering the journey no less time-consuming, but costlier, than the original route. Transit officials shut the highway on Sunday evening.

On Thursday, Arias attended the opening of a nearly finished initiative to revamp and expand the San Vicente de Paul Hospital in Heredia, north of San José. The $485 million dollar project features 250 new beds, nine operating rooms and a near doubling of the space in the old hospital.

The latest unveiling came Saturday, with the inauguration of four new bridges in the Pacific coast towns of Parrita, Savegre, Hatillo Nuevo and Hatillo Viejo, projects that totaled more than $10 million.

But it was the hospital project, in his hometown of Heredia, which he said is closest to his heart.

“Throughout the past four years of my government, I have seen the birth of many public works,” Arias said at the inauguration of the new San Vicente de Paul, which replaces the old hospital of the same name. “I have inaugurated EBAIS (clinics) … and music schools and community centers.

“But I think none of these works are as close to my heart, as close to my personal history as this new hospital in Heredia. This is the land that watched me grow, the land that taught me all that I know. And the old hospital taught me something I can never forget: the value of the Social Security System.”

The new Heredia hospital is 98 percent complete, and is expected to officially open in May. The new building will benefit a half-million residents of Heredia with the latest technology, top emergency care, radiology and laboratories, according to a statement from the Arias administration.

“It´s a privilege to have the best doctors and the best nurses in the country in our public hospitals,” Arias said. “For this reason, when I was a candidate for president, I promised that we would build a new hospital for Heredia…. Finally, we will have a new hospital in Heredia, a dream come true for a people who deserve this and much more.”

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