Community, Santa Cruz

Ostional is close to getting the bridge it has dreamed of for decades

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The Municipality of Santa Cruz is about to give the go-ahead to installing a modular bailey-style bridge over the Ostional River, a project that people have been waiting for for at least 20 years to put an end to the way the floods cut off the community during every rainy season.

According to the municipal engineer, Welder Bonilla, the work is scheduled to start on Monday, May 13, and installation will take two months. “The schedule is to complete placement of the bridge in one month. Just the placement. With the construction of the bridge approach fills, it could take two months,” he explained to The Voice.

The Municipality of Santa Cruz allocated ¢326,777,000 (about $633,000) to the project: ¢168 million (about $325,500) awarded to the América-Procom Consortium to install the bridge and ¢158 million (about $306,200) to Constructora Herrera for supplying the base and subbase.

The structures were provided by the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation (MOPT) and arrived in two stages.

In September of 2024, the community raised $14,000 to move the bridge from San José to Ostional and store it in the community, afraid that if they didn’t do it soon, MOPT would allocate it to another project in the country, whether due to one emergency or another priority. MOPT’s minister, Mauricio Batalla, specified in April that in Costa Rica, there are 500 bridges in poor condition and 85 of them require urgent intervention.

Last Friday, May 3, the company in charge of the work in Ostional moved the piles and channels, also from San José. These structures had not yet been brought and will fix the bridge to the ground.

An engineer from the National Road Council, Pablo Camacho, affirmed that the institution received the formal request for the piles and channels from the Municipality of Santa Cruz on April 3.

The soil has a poor capacity; it doesn’t support much, to put it in general terms, so what [the piles and channels] are looking to do is to find a stratum that is a little more solid deep down and over that, transmit all the bridge’s loads,” he explained.

The cost of moving them was assumed within the contract that the América-Procom consortium was awarded. According to Bonilla, they didn’t bring the piles and channels when they brought the bridge because they still needed some environmental permits.

The long-awaited last steps

The Municipality of Santa Cruz had to negotiate for a landowner to give up 250 square meters (2,690 square feet) on each side of the road to properly install the bridge. Bonilla stated that the owner of the property accepted and the municipality didn’t have to allocate resources to expropriate the land.

“They agreed to move the fence so that the approach fill has a sufficient slope so that it can hold up and the slope doesn’t fail,” he explained. “[That landowner] was very accommodating, and in fact he has been a big help because he has provided us [space] to store the bridge and part of the approach fill,” he added.

The bridge structure remains stored on a property adjacent to Route 160, where it will be installed.

The local government’s press officer, Francisco Mairena, said that since Friday, the municipality has been working on removing limbs from some trees and Coopeguanacaste is relocating some poles, necessary actions to start the work.

Bonilla, the municipal engineer in charge of the construction, also affirmed that the local government will look for landowners adjacent to the point where the bridge will be installed to arrange for them to allow temporary passage through their properties for a few weeks during the construction of the bridge.

The bridge, the channels and piles were given by MOPT as part of the agreement that the municipality and CONAVI began to work on in 2022. In it, CONAVI committed to designing the work and donating the bridge and the local government committed to installing it, a task that, in principle, MOPT should be responsible for since it has to do with National Route 160.