Posted by: Idioma Extra | May 24, 2010

Monday’s News

Cliffs along major highways crumble as downpour hits


The first strong dose of the rainy season revealed deficiencies in the major highways. Boulders as big as a Volkswagen fell on a motorcycle and other vehicles on the new Autopista del Sol.

Similar problems resulted in the closure of Ruta 32, the main highway from San José to Guápiles and Limón. That road was closed in the early afternoon.

The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional registered 51.8 millimeters, about 2 inches, at its Barrio Aranjuez headquarters. Nearly all fell between 2 and 5 p.m., according to the automatic weather station there. Some 37.4 millimeters, about 1.5 inches, were recorded at Juan Santamaría airport.

Other parts of the metro area and elsewhere in the country reported no or small amounts of rain.

Officials knew that a heavy rain would cause problems on the San José-Limón highway. This is an area of frequent rainfall between 22 and 24 kilometers north of San José in Parque Nacional Braulio Carrillo. A major slide took place in late April, and the traffic had been restricted to daytime only so observers could see the start of any landslide.

The Autopista del Sol is the San José-Caldera highway that is being run by a concession holder. That road, too, had steep slopes that were bound to give way when rain hit. The concession holder hung up some chain link fencing in critical spots, but the boulders that fell Sunday could tear through that easily. They also demolished a concrete wall.

Closing the highways is an economic body blow to the country. Limón-bound truckers are detoured through Turrialba, a narrow road where several accidents already have taken place because of the lumbering semis. The Caldera highway was billed as a boon to Pacific tourism and real estate.

Earlier this month investigators from the Defensoría de los Habitantes toured the new road in the company with a geologist from the national emergency commission.

The Defensoría reported that in one area the geologist went to the top of a hillside and saw cracks in some rocks that indicated the danger of future landslides. The visitors also saw vehicles trying to evade rocks falling from hillsides. And that was not a rainy day. In addition to the immediate danger, the maneuvers drivers have to take can cause an accident, the Defensoría said at the time.

To eliminate the problem would be costly. Mountainsides would have to be trimmed back and contoured.  Much of the land on the Caldera route that would need work is privately owned.

Word of the Day

Main Entry: land·slide
Function: noun
Date: 1838
1: the usually rapid downward movement of a mass of rock, earth, or artificial fill on a slope; also: the mass that moves down
2 a: a great majority of votes for one side
b: an overwhelming victory

More Vocabulary

Boon: n. a timely benefit; blessing
Bound: adj. destined, sure, certain
Contour: v. to build in conformity with the contour of the land
Crumble: v. to fall into small pieces; break or part into small fragments
Slope: n. ground that has a natural incline, as the side of a hill

Love those Phrasal Verbs!

Give way: to collapse; yield; break down

     Try not to give way under the pressure of too much work at the office.

Hang up: to suspend by placing on a hook, peg, hanger, or something of the like

     Jack always hangs up his jacket on his office door every morning.

Take place: to happen, occur

     Many accidents have taken place on that highway.


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