The alternate road bridge through Boyaca, which connects Bogota with Los Llanos, collapsed suddenly on Sunday. Authorities relate this event to the consequences of the earthquake experienced this week in that central region of the country. This poses a significant inconvenience for communication between the country’s capital and Villavicencio (Meta), as the road connecting the two cities has been closed since the 17th. The reason for the closure was landslides caused by the 6.1 magnitude earthquake with its epicenter in the Meta department.
Earthquake Weakened the Structure
According to information provided by the National Road Institute (Invias), the seismic activity that affected the entire region on August 17th damaged the structure of the Los Grillos bridge. The 6.1 magnitude earthquake caused damage to various structures in the Andean region of the country, including the capital Bogota, where parts of facades and interior roofs collapsed. The seismic event resulted in one fatality, a woman who fell from a seventh-floor balcony due to panic in the south of Bogota.
The collapsed viaduct was located at kilometer 81 of the Sogamoso – Aguazul road and was intended to serve as an alternate route to Villavicencio while the normal route is closed for inspection. Fortunately, it had not yet been opened for traffic, as its use was prohibited due to other nearby damage.
The Bridge Was Already Weakened
However, authorities confirmed reports from local residents that the bridge’s structure had already shown issues months earlier. In fact, the local community had requested an evaluation of the now-collapsed viaduct’s condition.
“The community had indicated that the bridge was going to suffer damage or collapse because it already had some structural issues,” regional spokespersons stated. However, the residents’ concerns were not translated into any solutions, and the bridge eventually collapsed. The road in the Pajarito municipality area has become impassable, leaving the town cut off.
The road was closed, so no personal injuries or vehicle accidents were reported. This closure was prompted by the emergency situation detected at the Quebrada Negra bridge, three kilometers from the collapsed viaduct. Authorities recommend using the El Sisga route as an alternative.
There is still no established date for the reopening of the Bogota – Villavicencio road. Authorities are evaluating the damage caused during the earthquake and clearing debris from the landslides that occurred on the road last Thursday. However, a humanitarian corridor will be established this week to transport goods to the capital of Meta until the regular traffic route can be reopened.
“We cannot allow the entry of vehicles, given that the current environmental conditions are not favorable due to the rains that occurred this morning (Monday), and other areas have become vulnerable,” said Fernando Castillo, Coviandina’s operational chief.
Traffic Disruptions During a Holiday Weekend
All these inconveniences are occurring during the holiday weekend of August 15th. The return operation on Monday, the 21st, is expected to be complicated for vehicles moving from Villavicencio to the capital.
In this regard, Invias has prepared a special operation to mitigate the effects of traffic jams into Bogota. A high influx of traffic is expected on the two alternative routes planned for accessing the capital from El Llano, so authorities have recommended staggered returns and a lot of patience for drivers.