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Costa Rican highway upgrade project in turmoil after auditing report

Bnamericas Published: Tuesday, November 08, 2022
Costa Rican highway upgrade project in turmoil after auditing report

A project to widen and upgrade the General Cañas and Bernardo Soto highways in Costa Rica, known as the San José-San Ramón corridor, has run into problems after national auditing agency CGR found several irregularities in the process.

The works involve widening three stretches of the roads, which form part of the Inter-American highway, and making upgrades to another section. The initiative is being overseen by the Ruta Uno trust, which is formed by the public works and transport ministry (MOPT) and national highway authority Conavi

The project "will improve the capacity and service of the Inter-American highway, benefiting users directly and indirectly with the aim of saving time and fuel,” states the report issued by the agency. 

However, after analyzing the process carried out by the trust, CGR determined that it did not follow a sequenced process to guarantee that the works would be carried out with a systematic approach. 

"It was identified that the project is in the pre-investment stage and has required an increase in the approved term of 950 calendar days and consequently an increase in expenses in the obligations of the Trustee. On the other hand, the necessary studies for the definition of the scope, cost, time and financial structuring of the integral project and its technical, social, environmental and financial feasibility have not been completed," the report reads.

Despite lacking some of the required studies, the CGR claims that the trust has moved forward with the project and approved execution through the program of “indispensable works” (OBIS). 

This means that the trust “runs the risk of having those works eventually subjected to some type of re-processing to adapt or modify them so they can be integrated into the main corridor,” it adds.

The agency also said that the management and monitoring tools for the works contain errors and do not take into account the due process of the project.

In response, the trust said in a release that the feasibility studies have been completed, but have not yet been approved by MOPT and Conavi. 

The CGR's findings “do not challenge the trust’s planning, but are directed at having the MOPT and Conavi issue the required resolutions so that the trust can move forward with the development of the project,” it added

The planned works involve the following:

Stretch 1 Sabana – Circunvalación (1.6km): To be widened to three lanes in each direction. 

Stretch 2 Circunvalación – Aeropuerto (12.6km): To be widened to four lanes in each direction. 

Stretch 3 Aeropuerto – San Antonio del Tejar (5.2km): To be widened to three lanes in each direction.

Strech four San Antonio del Tejar – San Ramón (34.8km): Upgrade works. 

The upgrades include the construction of intersections, bus bays, bridges, and lightning, signage and safety features.  

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