Taiwan Friendship Bridge could be on the verge of failure, engineers warn

(Daniel Soto)

(Daniel Soto)

August 27th, 2014 (InsideCostaRica.com) Experts from the National Laboratory of Materials and Structural Models (LANAMME) are warning that immediate intervention is required to repair serious faults on the Taiwan Friendship Bridge (Puente La Amistad de Taiwán) over the Tempisque River in Guanacaste that, in the worst case, could lead to the collapse of the structure.

 

LANAMME warns that the most serious concern is significant damage to the expansion joint that connects the two sections of the bridge.

 

Other problems include significant metal fatigue and broken concrete in the bridge’s supporting structure that is exposing reinforcing steel to the elements.

 

The problems are believed to be the result of damage caused by several earthquakes over the years that has never been repaired.

 

On October 22, 2009, a passenger bus crossing a suspension bridge over the Tarcoles River in Turrubares plunged into the river below after the bridge collapsed, killing five and injuring thirty.

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  • Frank Castle

    To the Honorable President Solis,

    This kind of thing should be a high priority item. Maintenance of a fairly new bridge like this has to be done or the results could be catastrophic. The amount of money that needs to be spent now would be nothing compared to repairing this bridge if a span goes down. People hate tolls but a 100 colon toll (200 for semis) either way would be a small price to pay to keep up the maintenance on this bridge.

    • Patrick Smyth

      Tolls? Obviously you’ve been lucky enough not to get caught speeding to the east of the bridge.

    • expatin paradise

      A 100 colon toll? Slowing/stopping traffic, causing drivers to sit in line while their engines idle, wasting fuel (possibly more than 100 colones worth) and adding to air pollution for less than 20 cents US? It isn’t as if drivers can toss a coin into an automated toll-taker like those used in the US for over half a century – here, you stop, hand money to a toll taker and get a paper receipt (a waste of paper). Any toll of less than 300 colones is simply wasteful. There has to be a better solution.

      Clearly, maintenance needs to be a priority. Crumbling concrete should be repaired and exposed metal painted. Debris that could cause structural damage to bridge supports needs to be removed and culverts kept cleaned out. We have seen too many bridges and roadways destroyed or severely damaged for want of simple maintenance. Apparently this culture has none of the cliches like those known to all gringos, such as “a stitch in time saves nine” or “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

      • Frank Castle

        Costa Rica needs to get it’s own version of EZPass so people don’t have to stop. By the way, those were recommended tolls so if they need to be higher, so be it.
        So, for those who don’t believe in tolls for maintenance, what is your solution? Being a critic is easy, isn’t it? Proposing ideas to solve problems is a little bit harder.

        • expatin paradise

          As I mentioned, even those coin catchers used at toll booths in the US for over half a century would speed up traffic at toll booths. Installing such booths for “exact change” would obviate the need for toll takers and save costs. As is done at so many toll plazas in the US, it should be necessary to have only one toll booth for “change/receipt needed.” Something like EZ Pass would also be good, but there are always people who won’t use them, including tourists in rental cars. After all, this is a culture that doesn’t use letter mail or checks.

          If tolls are to be charged, I’d suggest a minimum toll of 300 colones, and only if toll taking does not severely back up traffic. Tolls like the 75-colon (less than 15 cents US) toll near SJO airport are ridiculous – people burn much more than 15 cents worth of gasoline while waiting to pay the toll.

          I am sure that there is a portion of the gasoline tax or another tax that is supposed to go to road maintenance. My guess is that there is a lot of waste, if not fraud, in that operation. The case that comes to mind is the collapse of the circunvalacion near Pavas because trees in the drainage system took out the the road (which had also happened on the carretera between San Jose and the airport) when there was a contract for maintenance, but the contract supposedly did not include keeping the drainage under the highway clear. Such mismanagement is inexcusable and costly. A review should be made of existing contracts (what are we paying, and what do we get for it – are these contracts just political favors?) and the priority list for that department. If we didn’t have the high cost of replacing roads and bridges that were allowed to collapse from neglect, there would be more money available to do routine maintenance necessary to save those roads and bridges.

          The Golden Gate Bridge and Brooklyn Bridge are cleaned and repainted regularly. They would have otherwise been lost to rust decades ago. It is amazing that a culture that routinely keeps 20-year-old cars looking like new doesn’t give the same treatment to the roadways they use.

          • Frank Castle

            Thanks for presenting a solution and agreeing on some of what I suggested.

  • roberto

    The bridge cost CR zero, it was a gift from Taiwan. The Ticos only had to make the access roads. There is a department in MOPT that deals exclusively with bridges. I remember after the disaster of the suspension bridge over the Tarcoles River in Turrubares, the woman in charge was replaced or fired, can’t remember exactly. She might have also been included in the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the families. So who is in charge of the bridges now??? ICR care to interview the person? The same thing happened with the new national stadium. China paid for that but CR did not have a maintenance fund, or insurance. I think that now both of those issues have been addressed somehow since the discrepancies were disclosed.

  • disgusted

    This bridge paid for free and clear. Then the hundreds of Chinese police cars , most are all in th junk yard now and soon the national Stadium slowly rotting away. At least they ( China) got all the shark fins they could haul away. Need another eathquake to blame instead of a country who rob the money for maintenance here. So so sad!

  • Karen Mata

    Wonderful metaphor for the tico mindset.

    For the newbies ….It’s know as the back stab bridge. After the betrayal of Taiwan by CR, where CR recognized China, it seemed CR purposely neglected the bridge.

  • prdatki

    The last two crooked Presidents and the top 10 people in MOPT should be publicly executed and there assets taken to repair the bridge. I am sure this would instill discipline and improve the quality of work. It would be good to cut all benefits to elected and appointed officials too !

  • Joe1047

    It is absolutely appalling that Costa Rica was given a free bridge, then broke ties with Taiwan and they cannot even manage to do a bit of maintainance on the bridge. It is one thing to leave roads to deteriorate into what sometimes looks like a minefield went off. But to leave bridges to the point of falling with people dying is unbelievable. It takes the meaning of irresponsibility and stupidity to a whole new level even when referring to the government here.