Crews from the Public Works and Transport Ministry (MOPT) had only begun placing on Tuesday plastic lane dividers on Route 32, the main highway between San José and Limón province. By Thursday morning, Traffic Police reported that several of the dividers already were stolen or vandalized.
Juan Diego Soto, a MOPT engineer, conducted an inspection of the route and confirmed the damage to the devices, which are placed to reduce traffic accidents on a stretch of 37.5 kilometers of the highway where fog can seriously reduce visibility and make driving treacherous.
Ministry experts said the devices have been shown to reduce by up to 20 percent head-on collisions on roads.
MOPT on Tuesday began placing 2,000 of the poles and has 400 in reserve to replace damaged or stolen ones. The demarcation project costs ₡223 million ($433,000).
It is estimated that the dividers can support a minimum of 75 impacts before losing the ability to regain a vertical position, but after the inspection MOPT officials reported they already were vandalised.
Traffic Engineering officers filed a complaint with the Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) and asked for the opening of an investigation into the vandalism and theft of government-owned property, MOPT reported in a press release.
“People who get caught vandalizing or stealing these devices will be charged in a criminal court, and those who are caught in possession of them will be taken to courts as well,” the statement said.
MOPT officials are asking citizens to file complaints if they witness someone damaging or stealing the dividers. To issue a report call OIJ’s confidential hotline: 800-8000-OIJ (800-8000-645).