Asphalt for Route 160 Uncertain After Conflict Between MOPT and CONAVI

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A plan to asphalt 10 kilometers (10.2 miles) of road between Nosara and Playa Garza is in limbo after the National Roads and Highways Council (Conavi) and the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation (MOPT) failed to reach an agreement on paying travel expenses and overtime hours for employees working on Route 160.  

Both institutions signed an accord in June 2017, agreeing that MOPT would perform the work and Conavi would pay for it with an investment of ¢2.75 billion ($48 million).

But the agreement expired in July this year and still hasn’t been renewed. The 10 kilometers have not been paved.

For now, MOPT personnel continue to perform minor works along the route, like laying the rock sub-base.

Reduced Trip Expenses, Less Material

The disagreement among authorities over renewing the deal forced MOPT to pay travel expenses and overtime hours for those working on the route, avoiding a total shutdown of works.

Previously, personnel worked overtime hours on Saturdays and Sundays. Now they only work Monday through Friday, which slows progress on works.

The project could be frozen if the accord isn’t renewed and money for travel expenses runs out,” said the institution’s regional director Carlos Soto Castro.

Workers receive ¢188,000 ($330) monthly for food and lodging. According to the regional director, this is not enough money and workers have been paying their own expenses to stay in Nosara.

Suspending the agreement also forced MOPT to move 10,000 cubic meters of sub-base rock to the La Leche Route in San Antonio de Nicoya. This material was supposed to be used for Route 160.

It was an order from the Minister (Rodolfo Méndez Mata),” Carlos Soto said, referring to the material that was needed to complete the remaining 4.2 kilometers (2.6 miles) of sub-base between Garza and La Esperanza de Nosara.

The Voice of Guanacaste contacted Conavi to find out when the contract will be renewed and works along Route 160 may continue and whether or not the 10,000 cubic meters of rock for Nosara will be replaced. This newspaper did not receive a response by the time we went to print.

Residents Demand New Accord

Nosara representative Marco Ávila and the Route 160 committee, which has been pushing for pavement of the road, will meet MOPT Minister Rodolfo Méndez Mataon October 18 and demand a new deal that guarantees finishing the 10 kilometers of pavement.

The job is 40 percent done,” Ávila said. “No asphalt has yet been laid. On October 18 we are going to demand timeframes and dates for signing the deal.”

Members of the Route 160 Committee said in a statement on September 26 that “we insist on the importance of finishing this project. If it is not completed, they will be throwing away money of the Costa Rican people.”

Route 160 opens another chapter of broken promises by government officials in the last 11 years.

The last public promise was made by MOPT engineer Carlos Acosta, who told this newspaper in November 2017 that paving the road between Garza and Santa Marta de Nosara would be done in September this year.