San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Crane collapses bridge on Costa Rica's busiest highway

A Bailey Bridge installed on the General Cañas Highway collapsed Tuesday afternoon after a crane weighing more than 50 tons crossed the bridge. The bridge was placed on the highway in June as a  temporary solution to cover up a sinkhole that formed during heavy rains.

The highway is one of the busiest in Costa Rica, and traffic heading in the direction of San José (from the province of Alajuela) is backed up all along the route. The road is closed, and drivers must take detours to return to the capital. The opposite lane, from San José to Alajuela, remains open. The highway connects the capital to the country’s main international airport.

The Public Works and Transport Ministry said the route will be closed until next Tuesday as the crane still needs to be removed from the bridge, and workers must inspect the damage.

The maximum weight a Bailey Bridge can hold is 40 tons, according to reports from the National Roadway Council. The council is denying responsibility for the collapse, saying the crane should never have been on that highway in the first place due to its weight.

Photos of the bridge show the the large red crane, with the company’s name Grúas Quirós emblazoned on the vehicle, stuck in the middle of the sunken bridge. The driver of the crane was uninjured in the accident. A construction vehicle under the bridge was crushed by the collapse. That construction vehicle is holding up part of the bridge and preventing the structure from collapsing completely.

“We hope that the owner of the [crane] company will pay for this. The state will not cover it,” Public Works and Transport Minister Pedro Castro told local Radio Reloj.

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