The Naranjito Bridge, a structure of intricate architecture, connects the cities of Naranjito with Toa Alta and Bayamón via the PR-5 highway. In recent weeks, controversies about maintenance have led to its temporary closure on Monday, January 30. The Puerto Rican Highway and Transportation Authority (HTA) is set to start a rehabilitation process costing over a million dollars in order to improve the safety and structure of the bridge. This response is the reaction to the recent findings that the HTA failed to provide specialized preventative maintenance to the bridge in the past years. Executive Director Edwin González Montalvo stated that it was due to a lack of budget and a lack of consideration for the congestion of traffic on the bridge.
The closure is affecting many people, as it was one of the biggest driving routes, with an average of 14,000 vehicles and trucks crossing it daily. Drivers are having to find alternative routes for travel. For example, drivers headed to Bayamón will need to travel on road PR-167. This has brought a lot of public attention to the issue of a lack of transparency for issues like this, and due to allegations that the bridge’s inauguration was sped up so that then-governor Anibal Acevedo Vila (PDP, D) could be the one to open the bridge ahead of that year’s elections. González Montalvo remarked that there were letters from the bridge designer and construction contractor warning about the safety hazards of the bridge, which were all ignored.
The Puerto Rican House of Representatives is also investigating the concerns surrounding the bridge. They are concerned about the illegal actions involved in the construction of the bridge. The investigation is being directed by the Puerto Rico House Commission for the Development and Oversight of Public Funds in the Northern Region, led by representative Edgardo Feliciano (PDP, D). However, they noted that the fact that the bridge was constructed 12 years ago limits the extent of legislative action they can take. Other representatives are concerned about the construction company responsible for building the bridge as that same company is also responsible for a variety of other projects. The investigation is ongoing, and citizens in the area await more information.