No Longer a Bridge to Caracas

This graphic links to a study developed by Cecal-ULA (a research center at the Universidad de Los Andes in Venezuela) on the likelihood of the collapse of Viaduct 1 and how the problem could be solved before the road falls down.

Yesterday at 7 in the morning, the Viaduct 1 collapsed, and the government announced that it would remain closed for the rest of the year. For nearly 50 years, that road connected Caracas (Venezuela’s capital) to the coastline, the country's main airport, and the second largest port (35% of imported goods enter througt it). Some airlines are shifting their flights to the smaller Valencia airport (a little more than two hours by highway from Caracas), while maritime traffic is going through Puerto Cabello.

Venezuelan bloggers are buzzing about this event, which is seen as an economical catastrophe for the country. The government official statement indicates that the bridge collapsed because rainfall within the last week. Venezuelans received such a statement with emotional reactions going from relentless laughter to anger, since the disaster had been announced long ago. The first study reporting landslides affecting the viaduct structure was published on 1987, and experts have been advising the building of an alternate route, and the closing of this highway for major maintenance works since at least 2000. Rodolfo Rico highlights the cynicism of vice-President Rangel’s remarking on the government’s unawareness about the risk of the viaduct collapsing, and reports Google search results on the issue.

Bloggers were talking about the eminence of the Viaduct collapse during all 2005. Early on December, Unoconto was crunching numbers on how much it would cost to solve the Caracas-La Guaira highway problem, and RomRod asked the Niño Jesús (Child Jesus Christ) to give him a new Viaduct as Christmas gift. Sadly, it looks like the Niño Jesús was not reading Venezuelan blogs, neither were government officers.

Houses located in the extremely poor neighborhoods surrounding the Caracas-La Guaira highway are also at risk. Pro-Chávez blog Aporrea reports government announces about relocation options for people living there: either buying a house elsewhere, or moving to a refugee center


  • Michelle Lewis

    this is a national disgrace for the Venezuelaian government!! this is a catastophe and the fact that the government is willing to allow this to bridge to remain defunct for a year speaks volums of the crueltity and callousness of the government towards the indeginous peoples of Venezuela for shame!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Jenny Ramos

    Mobility of the citizenry limited. That is dictatorship.

  • […] Global Voices Online has more detailed information on the situation and many interesting links. […]

  • This is certainly a major test for the Chavez government, a crisis such as this always has a opportunity hidden just under the surface. If the Chavez government can rise to the occasion and make this the number one national priority, it could change the minds of doubters and those who oppose this government. There are many wise and workable solutions to this problem; enlist the help of the Chinese, they have very competent bridge design firms who would gladly take on a highly visable project such as this at a very competitive cost. Another possibility is to give an American company a chance to meet the challenge, this would build bridges in more ways than one…These are the opportunities that change peoples minds!

  • Cris Subrizi PE

    The government has had a viable phased solution on its plate for years. Collapse as it has been used in the media is not an accurate term–the graphic on this page predicts an as of yet (fortunately) unrealized eventuality.

    There is still a chance to manage the transition to a new route by implementing a “time-buying” tmeporary solution.
    See for the history.

    With respect to public works–Government innaction is not unique to Venezuela. The challenge for us all is to create a way for citizens to actively be engaged in public works management.

  • Certainly, the viaduct did not fall down as it does in the graphic. One of the north pilots is fractured (a picture in one of the links shows it clearly) and the road itself is fractured too (there were pictures in Venezuelan newspapers that week). People referred to the fractured pilot as collapsed (some Spanish language specialists have argued about whether or not that is the proper meaning of such word, but it certainly is very common usage of that word in Venezuela).

    Venezuelans are upset because as you say “The government has had a viable phased solution on its plate for years”. Indeed, there were two or three workable alternatives. Since 2000, all experts agreed that major maintenance was needed and the building of an alternate route was required. The government has been plenty of financial resources for undertaking these construction works, at least since the third quarter of 2003, but they did not start working on this until November 2005.

    The risk was well-known. Technical solutions were developed. The country had financial resources. Human resources were ready to work. Citizens were in favor of that investment. The government did nothing until it was too late. That is what made people upset in this case.

  • Good afternoon. I was looking for info on buying a house and I found this blog. I am not exactly sure why, perhaps you have the term “Buying a house” on your site somwhere. Anyway, i have read through some of your posts and it is very interesting. I have bookmarked your blog and will return next week to see if there are any updates.

    Many thanks,

    Chris the Lakers fan.

  • Juan Pueblito

    Yes Venezuela is making great progress in the field of small independent merchants yes sir soon Venezuela will be a nation of buoneros how do like that?

  • Marcel Worth

    Does anyone know if the bridge has been re-opened and if not if there is a planned opening date ?

  • IP

    The new bridge is expected to be open sometime this summer. Meanwhile, a narrow road connects the two highway sections. Besides a customary traffic jam, that emergency road serves satisfactorily most of the time. However, the emergency road (named “la trocha” by Venezuelan folks) may be closed now and then because of the new bridge’s works or because of landslides when weather is severe (rain season is coming soon). Generally, the government issues warnings when the road needs to be closed. The U.S. consular office in Caracas usually posts such warnings in its website to keep travelers informed.

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