By Patricia Duran K.
The National Council for the Administration of Highways (CONAVI, Spanish) is a public institution specialized in road infrastructure, committed to the welfare and development of Costa Rica. It is capable of ensuring the sustainability of the National Road Network, through contracts and agreements with third parties. These aim at ensuring optimal conditions of operation, through a process of continuous improvement, in harmony with the environment.
The entity is meant to plan, program, manage, finance, implement and monitor the conservation and the construction of the National Road Network, in compliance with the programs that the Office of Planning of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport may prepare. The entity is also responsible for entering into contracts running the projects, supplies and services required for the process of maintenance and construction of the totality of the national road network.
It also has to supervise the correct completion of the works, including keeping to quality control, fostering research, development and technology transfer in the field of construction and maintenance of roads and fulfilling contracts or providing the services necessary for the pursuit of its objectives and completion of the tasks.
However, although the tasks and responsibilities are clear, the works are not always fulfilled in the times established. Just look at the stretch from Tamarindo to Langosta, for instance, a road that, as many others, is still on the waiting list, on the lookout for solutions and, to gotten down to business.
According to Francisco Mairena, press officer of the Municipality of Santa Cruz, this stretch is CONAVI’s responsibility, since it is a national road. Therefore, the municipality has no responsibility, whatsoever. “The only sector considered as a municipal responsibility is the one that goes from the second crossing in Tamarindo turning on the way to Los Jobos. The roads connecting one place with another are state or national routes; the alternating or regional roads are the municipalities’ responsibility,” said Mairena.
As for the stretch going from 27 de abril to Villarreal, Wasser Matarrita, engineer from Conavi in zone 2-3 of Carrillo and of the zone 2 – 4 Nicoya, Nandayure, Ojancha and the Peninsula, said “there is a design of a businessman that was issued to the Ministry of Public Works and Transport; however, it must be reviewed and approved by Conavi, and then seek funds for the construction of this road.”
According to Edgar Manuel Salas Solis, Director of Engineering of CONAVI, the stretches from 27 de abril to Villarreal and from Langosta to Tamarindo are national routes, and, therefore, they are under the responsibility of this entity.
Salas stated that, in the case of the stretch from 27 de abril to Villarreal, a group of entrepreneurs donated the design and presented it to CONAVI, where it was analyzed and pertinent observations were made for its correction.
“These people hired a company that developed the design, which consists of about 9 kilometers. In the first revision, they analyzed every detail in order to comply with the technical rules established and the environmental details, in addition to road safety and geometrical design matters,” said Salas.
The Director of Engineering at CONAVI, added that the comments were sent in writing and that they are waiting for corrections to be made in order to begin with the approval process and permits. “We returned the design a month ago and as soon the changes are done and the design is submitted once again, we will revise it, and if everything complies with the regulations established, we could start with the procedures for the permit granting.”
This process is carried out before different institutions, such as the National Technical Secretariat of Environment (SETENA, in Spanish) and the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Telecommunications (Minaet) as to riverbeds in protected areas and the possibilities of tree felling. They work in coordination with public service institutions in order to avoid obstacles when embarking on the works or benefiting from the collaboration in case of relocating the project, if necessary. “What they do is to initiate the bidding and permits processes at the same time, since you may need several weeks or months for obtaining permission. Therefore, they would make the most of their time and start searching for funds to finance the work.”
The Administrative Council is responsible for collecting the funds. They must indicate whether the money is public or not, or if it is necessary to request an international loan. “The cost of this work could be about 8 to 9 billion colones. For that reason, it might be supported by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) or the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI)”, added Salas.
The stretch from 27 de abril to Villarreal would be an asphalted road with two 3.65m lanes, vertical and horizontal demarcation and their corresponding retaining walls. Salas Solís was emphatic in saying that this route is under process. However, due to the pending procedures, the works will not start this year. During the remaining months of 2009, they will be devoting their time to permits, bidding processes and fund search.
As for the Langosta-Tamarindo stretch, there is no green light, yet. “There are no instructions or information from the Office of Engineering.”
According to Salas, every road is important for CONAVI’s engineers because they imply the development of each area. If there is a chance of collaborating and improving the current conditions, they will always be there supporting the cause, like in the case of Cañas-Liberia, whose road widening project will be initiated in a few weeks.