Costa Rica’s popular Highway 27 to Pacific at risk from rains

May 26, 2015

A new report has raised concerns about Route 27 between San José and the central Pacific port town of Caldera during the rainy season.

The 76.7-kilometer Caldera Highway shaved hours off the trip to popular Pacific beach destinations like Jacó and Manuel Antonio when it opened in January 2010, but its popularity has also contributed to its accelerated rate of deterioration. That’s according to the University of Costa Rica’s National Structural Materials and Models Laboratory (LANAMME), which released an annual assessment of the Globalvia private highway concession on Monday.

LANAMME said the highway’s condition is “acceptable” but added that the roadway’s steep slopes, worn pavement, and bridges were causes for concern, especially during heavy rains. The road is in slightly better condition than it was compared to the previous year’s report, but “the maintenance performed has not represented a significant improvement in the structural conditions of the stretches of road inspected,” the report said.

Among the report’s findings was the need to tackle the problems of erosion and stability of the highway’s steep slopes. Sections of the road can feel like the driver is in a ravine, with steep rock faces rising on either side. LANAMME raised concerns about the deterioration of the concrete cap poured over the rock face to hold back the hillside during the rain. If action is not taken in the near term, LANAMME said drivers could be in danger of landslides.

In 2014, landslides closed the route, snarling traffic in both directions for hours.

The wear and tear of the pavement was another concern. LANAMME said that sections of the road were at risk of slippery, dangerous conditions in the rain. The laboratory recommended improving the texture of the pavement with different seals to improve road traction.

LANAMME specifically mentioned the Salitral Bridge as one in need of attention in the near term due to its worsening condition.

Montserrat Courrau, spokeswoman for GlobalVía in Costa Rica, told The Tico Times in an email that the company was not aware of the LANAMME report and therefore could not comment on its concerns or recommendations.

“Globalvia Ruta 27 keeps up a constant maintenance plan during the year that includes preventative actions on the entire road, with special attention to the slopes,” Courrau wrote in the email.

Courrau email also said that the bridges along the highway are the responsibility of the Costa Rican state, not the concessionary.

This was LANAMME’s fifth annual assessment of the private highway concession.

And in case you’ve forgotten, take a look at what happened last year on this highway:

 

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