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EL PUENTE

Puerto Rico Transportation Technology Transfer Center


University of Puerto Rico, Mayagez Campus

In Memoriam

An Extraordinary Public Servant and Planner with a Passion for Transportation


Legacy of the Vision and Transformation of a Country
By: Eng. Miguel A. Torres Daz, Secretary DTOP

Bridges are structures that human beings use to overcome

PAGE

CONTENT
Legacy of the Vision and Transformation of a
Country

1 & 3-5

Message from the Director

natural barriers, through which we can allow access between


places. In life, bridges symbolize union, communication,
development, future.
For Don Hermenegildo Ortiz Quiones, better known as
Mereyo, he not only admired them as structures, but he
dedicated his life to building bridges, physical and emotional
ones, that allowed for the development of Puerto Rico. All of us
that knew him in one way or another, will remember him as a
man with vision, master of transformation, who left his legacy in
the infrastructure of Puerto Rico.
Don Hermenegildo distinguished himself both in academia and
practice. His vision on planning took him to the Graduate School
of Planning of the University of Puerto Rico as a professor.

His Impact on Academia

6-7

An Example of Service to Puerto Rico

8-10

The Best Words Are Ones Own

11-14

Don Hermenegildo Ortiz Quiones: A


Renaissance Man

15-17

Posthumous Tribute to Dr. Hermenegildo Ortiz


Quiones

18-19

The Livable City, Our Dear Mereyos Dream

20-21

In Honor to the Memory of my Father

22

Hermenegildo Ortiz Quiones: A Puerto Rican for


History

23

Bridging the Gap: A Memory of the Teodoro


Moscoso Bridge

24-27

Continued on page 3

Volume 29, Number 1, 2015 | Special Edition Dr. Hermenegildo Ortiz Quiones
EL PUENTE NEWSLETTER, VOL. 29, NO. 1, 2015

During the last 30 years, El Puente has served as a source of information for municipal and transportation
public works officials, as well as the people of Puerto Rico, regarding emerging projects and initiatives
associated with transportation that will benefit present and future generations and improve quality of life to
all our stakeholders.
In this Special Edition of El Puente, transportation and government leaders from the Commonwealth of
Puerto Rico recognize Dr. Hermenegildo Ortiz Quiones, Mereyo, an extraordinary public servant, engineer,
planner, and professor, who has dedicated all of his life to serve our country, for a better quality of life for all
the residents of our beloved island. Furthermore, family members, friends, students, and colleagues have
accepted our invitation to document his early years as an outstanding baseball player, a great son, and
family man, as well as his impact as a planning professor, administrator, and planner, significantly
contributing to the overall social-economic sustainable development of the built transportation
infrastructure of the Island.
The feature article presented by Eng. Miguel A. Torres, DTPW Secretary, recounts the successful trajectory of
Mereyo through his work in this administrative agency with emphasis in public private partnership (PPP) and
public transportation initiatives. The President of the University of Puerto Rico, Dr. Uroyon Walker,
presents the contributions of Mereyo in the Academia, particularly highlighting his work as Dean of the
School of Planning at UPR Ro Piedras. Planner Gabriel Andrs Rodrguez Fernndez, Past President of the
Puerto Rican Planning Society, former Assistant to the DTPW Secretary in Planning and disciple of Mereyo,
relates his contributions as a DTPW secretary, as President of the Planning Board, specifically in the
reorganization of public transportation in the San Juan Metropolitan Area. Esquire and Planner Reynaldo
Alegra, shares Mereyos anecdotes at different historic moments of his life. This article forms part of the
posthumous tribute where family members and friends gave their final farewells.
Engineer Jos Pepe Izquierdo Encarnacin, President of the Chamber of Commerce of Puerto Rico and past
Secretary of the Department of Transportation and Public Works, and Secretary of State, shares Mereyos
personal and political life. Through the experiences shared, he presents how he made a positive
contribution politically, socially, and economically to his beloved Puerto Rico.
In terms as his role as a son, father and grandfather, his daughter Mara del C. Ortiz Pajarn, describes him as
the great human being and as a role model. Furthermore, she states that her fathers greatness lies in his
unconditional and intense love he had for what he did, and devoted himself to love without reservations,
completely, and without fear. In her second article, presents us with a reflection of the person that made
up her father. She recounts how he worked tirelessly to become a better person and at the same time help
our country through the academia and other positions he held in the government. Planner Martha Bravo
Colunga shares with us Mereyos great dreams for Puerto Rico, the Livable City, and her experiences as a
student, assistant and colleague.
Osvaldo Gil, Esq. a longtime friend of Mereyo, shares his experiences during his childhood, his baseball days
in Humacao and Mayagez, and Juncos AA League, and how they maintained their friendship over three
quarters of a century.
The last key note address presented by Mereyo was at the transportation engineering week as part of the
100th Anniversary of the Department of Civil Engineering and Surveying at the University of Puerto Rico at
Mayagez. This masterpiece shows his integrated vision as a planner, engineer, and administrator that
includes the first APP project in the island, the Teodoro Moscoso Bridge.
My dear colleague and longtime friend Mereyo: Thank you once again for your friendship and wise advice
during my professional career as a consultant in transportation and for sharing your vision of a livable city of
a balanced, integrated, and efficient public transportation system for present and future generations. Rest
in peace my dear friend. Your wise advice have certainly made a profound effect on so many professionals
in our island and will continue to be an inspiration in the years to come to those that are passionate to this
field of transportation.

Benjamn Colucci Ros

TRANSPORTATION TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER CENTER

Mereyo: Legacy of the Vision and Transformation of a Country


Today, as Secretary of the Department of
Transportation and Public Works, I go back to the
decades of the 80s and 90s and I confess that the
work of Don Hermenegildo in the Department was
titanic.

Third, the Teodoro Moscoso Bridge was the first


public toll bridge in the Western Hemisphere to be
built using private financing or what we know today
as a Public Private Partnership.

During his term he led projects, which, to this day,


residents as well as visitors of Puerto Rico, can
enjoy. We can highlight at least three of these
projects which he had the opportunity to develop.

Eng. Miguel A. Torres Diaz


Secretary
Department of
Transportation and Public
Works (DTPW)

First, the bridge over the Caguana River in Utuado


which was the first curved prestressed concrete
bridge in Puerto Rico which was built using the
technique of incremental launching.

Teodoro Moscoso Bridge over the San Jos Lagoon:


First Public Private Partnership Project in the
Western Hemisphere using private financing

The Caguana River Bridge built with the


Incremental Launching Technique
Second, the overpass bridges along the Ramn
Baldorioty de Castro Expressway were the first in
Puerto Rico and perhaps the world to be built in 72
hours. The novel design of these overpasses gained
him praise from then Governor of the
Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Rafael Hernndez
Coln.

Baldorioty de Castro Expressway Overpass


EL PUENTE NEWSLETTER, VOL. 29, NO. 1, 2015

In a balanced perspective between civil engineer


and planner, Mereyo was very clear on defending
and giving priority to pedestrians. His north was
always the people, Puerto Ricans, for whom he
created one of his iconic proposals, the concept of
the Livable City. The livable city is that of healthy
coexistence, the city that lives safe 24 hours, the city
that links people to physical facilities and activities.
The livable city is the city in which people walk,
become socially involved, and that in which the total
interrelation produces a great quality of life.
For this reason and as continuity of this future vision
of Mereyos, we are pushing forward the concept of
Complete Streets where we look to balance the
planning, design, and construction of pedestrian and
cyclist projects in Puerto Rico. These have as a
priority to achieve that we can share public spaces,
and where we provide safe pedestrian access routes
and mass transit systems for children, teens, adults,
and people with mobility challenges.
Mereyo proposed in various articles and interviews
that pedestrians should be provided with the
necessary tools to move freely in their environment,
without the need of a vehicle. This is the one and
only way in which mass transit and its elements are
coherent in the fiber of our infrastructure planning
and development.

Mereyo: Legacy of the Vision and Transformation of a Country


This city model focused more on humans and less in
automobiles. Mereyo believed in the necessity of a
convenient and reliable Transit System for the
citizens.

Mereyo was

Old San Juan: A Livable City Experience

honest and a
laudable
example of
what it means
to be a public
servant and for
more than fifty
years of his life
he served his
country in one
form or
another.

he felt was really important: freedom of mobility for


the people.

Condado and Old San Juan

As part of this vision, Mereyo managed to launch the


beginnings of the Urban Train, one of the many
projects that could help to improve the mobility in our
city and in Puerto Rico.

Although he lived in love with bridges, he was


certain that the development of a Transit System
would be the future of Puerto Rico, not as a
solution in of in itself, but as a complement to what

Following Mereyos legacy and thoughts, it is very


important for us to develop a transportation model
that includes an integrated system. It is because of
this that today we are rethinking mass transit as a
single entity, which was created by Law 123 of 2014,

The Livable City concept applied to

Eng. Miguel A.
Torres Daz

Proposed project for the entrance to Old San Juan with the elements of the Livable City

TRANSPORTATION TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER CENTER

Mereyo: Legacy of the Vision and Transformation of a Country

Although all

Presenting the Public Transportation System for the Metropolitan Area of San Juan to Eng.
Miguel Roa President, College of Engineers and Surveyors of Puerto Rico
denominated the Integrated Transit Authority (ATI in
Spanish).
ATI has the responsibility to continue cultivating the
seed that Mereyo planted for almost three decades
with the integration of the Urban Train, the buses
and the ferries not only in the metropolitan area, but
also wherever pedestrian community can benefit
from mass transit for their freedom of mobility.
As you can see, Puerto Rico had the contribution of a
human being that distinguished himself for being a
visionary whose influence still radiates on those of us
must now give continuity to the solutions our country
needs.
The Department of Transportation and Public Works
had a secretary that accomplished transforming the
countrys highway system and demonstrated that
there is talent in Puerto Rico to compete with the
best in the world.
Mereyo was honest and a laudable example of what
it means to be a public servant and for more than
fifty years of his life he served his country in one form
or another. He was focused on unifying people and
promoting the economic and social development of
EL PUENTE NEWSLETTER, VOL. 29, NO. 1, 2015

the island. He was a man that shortened distances,


strengthened ties, aggrandized the public system
with honorability, dedication, and commitment.
Today I feel honored to occupy the position that for
three years Don Hermenegildo occupied. Without
any doubt, his work has transformed thousands of
lives that use the projects that he accomplished.
Furthermore, his legacy is an example of devotion to
public service. For me, Mereyo is an example and
inspiration to continue his legacy.

Rest

his life he loved


bridges, he was
certain that the
development
of a Transit
System would
be the future
of Puerto Rico,
not as a
solution in of in
itself, but as a
complement to
what he felt
was really
important:
freedom of
mobility for the
people.

Eng. Miguel A.
Torres Daz

in peace

dear Mereyo that


while you observe
us with your
everlasting smile,
it is our time to
continue working
together to lead
Puerto
Rico
toward success.

His Impact in Academia

Dr. Uroyon Walker


Ramos,
President of the
University of
Puerto Rico

When referring to public service, the vision and


models that contribute to a better quality of life, it
is imperative to review the important contribution
of Doctor Hermenegildo Ortiz Quiones.

eliminating physical difficulties in the city, providing


and presenting solutions for our mobility problems,
and in so doing, improving the quality of life for all
citizens, Mereyo was a visionary.

Mereyo, as his friends, students and colleagues


would call him, was a public servant of
unquestionable integrity. He was an engineer,
planner, professor, and academic. Puerto Rico had
the great fortune of having him as one of its most
distinguished public servants. He dedicated the best
of his lineage with his smile, spirit, intellect and
outstanding training- to make Puerto Rico a better
place to live and coexist. Without a doubt, he is one
of the most outstanding and prominent Puerto
Ricans of this era.

In the Department of
Transportation
and
Public Works, Mereyo
was an innovator. In a
creative manner he
launched some of the
most outstanding and
defying projects we
have seen in this
country. Examples of
such works are the
Teodoro
Moscoso
Bridge, the first public
private partnership in
Puerto
Rico;
the
construction
of
overpasses along the Baldorioty de Castro Avenue,
with fast construction technology, in just 72 hours;
the curved bridge over the Caguana River in Utuado,
which in its time was the first double curvature build
bridge using incremental launching. He also gave life
to El Tren Urbano, the Urban Train, an idea that
languished since the 70s in Puerto Ricos
transportation plans.

In public service he led some of the main


government agencies. It is fair to highlight that his
feat did not only have an impact on our lives, but
also in the present and, definitely in the future of
our archipelago.
While serving as Secretary for Transportation and
Public Works, and later as President of the Planning
Board of Puerto Rico, Mereyo oversaw some of the
most important infrastructure projects. He designed
the strategies for the development and led present
and future plans for the growth of and for the
country. His passage was defined by his integrity,
administrative skill and creativity. When he was

TRANSPORTATION TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER CENTER

His Impact in Academia


Since his time in the Planning Board, Ortiz Quiones
instituted the philosophy of peaceful coexistence,
the basis for what he aptly called the livable city. He
emphasized the importance of organizing our urban
areas in an integrated manner to strengthen the
human networks that lead to quality of life. He put
the urban fabric at the disposition of the people.
Today, decades later, we still strive for Mereyos
Livable City, through the implementation of concepts,
of complete streets in which we all take our place
in perfect harmony pedestrians, drivers and cyclists; and development oriented towards mass transit.

At the Ceremony celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Graduate


School of Planning of the University of Puerto Rico, 2005

However, of the positions he held outside of his


appointments as a cabinet member, was that of an
academic at the Ro Piedras Campus of the University
of Puerto Rico. All of Puerto Rico remembers Mereyo
as one of its most esteemed academics. He was part
of the group that founded the School of Planning. He
held leadership positions in the University during his
academic life. Mereyo, Dean of Students for the Ro
Piedras Campus, with his big smile and sincere,
friendly personality and ability to create dialogue and
consensus without being confined to the process,
was able to create an environment of peace and
stability in a University and a Campus marked by the
disturbances during the beginning of the decade of
the 80s.
As a professor, Dr. Ortiz Quiones devoted himself to
the education process of our people, in which he
always worked convinced that it was a great duty in
which he made important contributions. Mereyos
legacy, the professor, survives him and will influence

EL PUENTE NEWSLETTER, VOL. 29, NO. 1, 2015

our lives for many years. As a show of respect and


appreciation of him by his university, it is enough to
see his past students of the School of Planning of
the Ro Piedras Campus during his honor guard at
the Posthumous Tribute from the Roundabout of
the Ro Piedras Campus. There, generations of
planning professionals guided by his vision and
wisdom, touched by his smile, integrity and
excellence, paid him a fitting tribute.
The country and the University of Puerto Rico have
a great debt of gratitude with the engineer, doctor,
academic, director, dean, secretary, and Puerto
Rican who was proud of his heritage, Hermenegildo
Ortiz Quiones, for whom the university classroom
was always the place where he felt the most
comfortable; the place where he felt fully achieved,
without conditions nor perks, of his civic
responsibility.
We will miss don Hermenegildo Ortiz Quiones
throughout the halls of this university, which he so
deeply loved. We will miss him for his always
friendly personality, for his inevitable commitment
Integrated Approach Zone
with the great
Puerto
Rican
causes and for
his
elevated
principles and
ideas
of
wellbeing
for
Concrete Parapets
his
people,
which dictated
each and every
one
of
his
actions.
The
memory of the
person
who
made the Ro
Piedras Campus his University will remain forever a
university legacy. His dedication to public service
will forever remain as an example to follow for
current and future public servants of Puerto Rico.
Even though we know he will be always present in
each and every life he touched with his life lessons.

We will miss
him for his
always friendly
personality, for
his inevitable
commitment
with the great
Puerto Rican
causes and for
his elevated
principles and
ideas of
wellbeing for his
people, which
dictated each
and every one
of his actions.
Dr. Uroyon
Walker Ramos

Let us always follow his example of service to our


country.

Rest in peace don Hermenegildo Ortiz Quiones,


a great academic, a magnificent Puerto Rican.

An Example of Service to Puerto Rico


Writing about Dr. Hermenegildo Ortiz Quiones (the
great Mereyo) is a challenge that can be considered
easy yet at the same time almost impossible. Many
facts and stories worth sharing quickly come to mind,
but choosing and organizing them is not easy. Let's
see.
You may have heard that he was an athlete, playing
baseball for the Mayagez AA team while studying
Gabriel A. Rodrguez
engineering. Less known is that, even in his seventies
Fernndez,
he still ran the Teodoro Moscoso 10k marathon,
President of the
Puerto Rican Planning perhaps in the way recalling how, in a few years, he
Society
managed to take that bridge from being a concept, a
line hand-drawn on a map, to becoming the iconic
entrance to the international airport. This, while using
virtually no public resources in the process; only
imagination, commitment and will. As such, he created
an innovative civil engineering project, yet also one of
innovative financial engineering, which in fact laid the
foundation for making other large projects viable,
though they were later deterred by the political
struggles we suffer daily.
You may not know that, being (proudly) a black Puerto
Rican from the Humacao public schools, amid the
fierce discrimination of the 50s in the US, he
completed a Masters Degree in Urban and Regional
Planning at Harvard, and a Ph.D. from Cornell
University. From there he returned to serve his people,
including helping establish the Graduate School of
Planning of the University of Puerto Rico, where he
excelled in training generations of planners from all
over Latin America.
Those of us who had the privilege of working with him
will not forget his stunning smile and humility. With
that smile he even disarmed the student leadership of
the UPR at Ro Piedras, who found themselves at a loss
on how to protest against the Administration, when
Dr. Ortiz, while Dean of Students, opened his doors
and offered dialogue.
As President of the Planning Board (PB), Dr. Ortiz tried
to strengthen the agency and guide the country
towards a truly sustainable development. He used to
say that in order to lead us towards a balanced
development", as officially supported by "everyone",
first we had to push the balance in the opposite
direction to which it had leaned for decades, with a
disorderly growth. He claimed that "to balance" only
prospectively would perpetuate many existing
problems. Suffice it to say that powerful influences
soon pressed against him at all levels, and he chose to

resign rather than become an accomplice of false


development. As inheritance he left us an outline for a
new planning law and the vision of accessible and livable
cities.

Awarding DTOP employees during the Womens Week


celebration

From that short time as President of the PB we should


also remember that he even valiantly faced the Navy.
Specifically, on December 13, 2001, without first even
consulting with the Governor, he denied the Navy an
extension of their permission to continue military
practices in Vieques, a permission always granted by his
predecessors. His stance helped the growing national
movement against military practices and bombing, and
on May 1, 2003 the Navy left Vieques.
Notwithstanding the above, it is his work as Secretary of
Transportation and Public Works which is remembered
by most people. In barely four years, he transformed the
DTOP and its agencies, performing a well-planned job of
"institutional engineering".
When named in 1989, he quickly began consolidating a
small group of offices in what he called Secretariado,
ascribed to the Secretarys Office. The Secretariado
coordinated and supervised activities throughout the
umbrella Department, so different areas and agencies
could efficiently work together. Every Monday at 7:00
AM he assembled the heads of these offices and those of
various areas and agencies under the Department, to
discuss the work schedule and have each one report on
how they were advancing on their tasks. In this manner,
we all knew and supported each other to achieve
common goals. More than one Director failed the test
and could not continue to be part of that team.
Difficult decisions were made to address problems of
squandering and corruption, while improving workers
conditions. From what was the Division of Motor
Vehicles (where some employees even worked shirtless
keeping files in old warehouses at Isla Grande) he
TRANSPORTATION TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER CENTER

An Example of Service to Puerto Rico


created the Directory for Driver Services and the
network of CESCOs, computerizing processes. Under the
Directorate of Public Works, regional DTOP offices
collaborated, with greater autonomy, with those of the
Highway Authority on addressing municipal problems.
He reinforced the work of beautification and
maintenance of roadsides, harmonizing it with the
development and operation of the highway system.
Thanks to that vision, today we can see how a road in
Rincon was widened, doubling its capacity, while at the
same time the ancient trees that lined the old road were
protected, simply by realigning the additional lanes on
the other side of the trees. Small urban forests at major
intersections in the Metro Area are also part of his
legacy.
At the same time, Dr. Ortiz directly participated in
studies leading to a Transportation Plan. He integrated
planning with ongoing decision making, and by the time
he completed and adopted the Plan, it had already
redefined the entire investment program in the state
highway system, as well as the work schedule for the
development of a multimodal mass transportation
system for the Metropolitan Area of San Juan.

Press Conference of the Metrobs Project with Hctor


Luis Acevedo, Former Mayor of the City of San Juan

To address transit challenges, he faced the crisis that


always plagued the Metropolitan Bus Authority,
dramatically reducing staff and the paralyzing control of
labor unions. This increased effectiveness and efficiency
in the agency. In a brave and very calculated gesture, he
appropriated the MBAs Route # 1 and assigned it to the
newly redefined Highway and Transportation Authority
(HTA), to operate it as the Metrobus, a premium bus
service under a new concept of contracted operators.
The new operation was supported by studies, physical
improvements and marketing, but was also audited in
every detail of its operation, and supervised by the
EL PUENTE NEWSLETTER, VOL. 29, NO. 1, 2015

Secretary, who stood at Ponce de Leon Avenue to check


for himself the systems compliance with schedules and
frequency of service.
At that time the Acuaexpreso, which had faced
planning, design and financing problems since concept,
was also reorganized and completed. The Ports
Authority and in particular the Fajardo-Vieques-Culebra
ferry system also made improvements while he was in
charge of DTOP.
Under the direction of Dr. Ortiz, the Highway Authority
(HA) became the multimodal Highway and
Transportation Authority (HTA). The agency then had a
Deputy Executive Director for Highway Infrastructure,
and a Deputy Executive Director for Planning and
Transit Development. These responsibilities were not
seen as conflictive but complementary, under a vision
that also generated new policies for parking and for the
integrated management, operation and maintenance of
transportation systems.
Dr. Ortiz was well aware of budget limitations and that
the plans for transportation systems development and
operation would require additional funding. He thus
ordered financial studies that generated proposals for
gradual increases in tolls and gasoline taxes, with part
of these revenues dedicated to mass transit
development and operations. The rejection of this
systemic vision and gradualist approach, by the upper
levels of partisan politics (those of that time and those
who followed), together with decisions that reduced
the scope yet multiplied the cost of transit projects,
stand out among the reasons that brought us to the
fiscal collapse of agencies and large, sudden tax
increases, among other present-day problems.
The system approach led to consideration of a variety
of elements during project planning. For example, upon
his arrival to DTOP in 1989, Dr. Ortiz found the proposal
for something called Metrobus, under development as
a special project in the MBA. There, an engineer was
attempting to mechanically transfer the bus system of
Curitiba in Brazil into San Juans reality. Using a system
approach (and common sense) Dr. Ortiz transformed
the proposal to a system that in the short term could
represent a significant improvement in mobility
between Rio Piedras and Old San Juan.

Dr. Ortiz was


a great son,
brother,
husband, father,
grandfather and
Friend. He
wrote, taught,
played, planted
and sowed;
He received
dozens of
tributes and
never stopped
being humble,
cheerful and
helpful.
Gabriel A.
Rodrguez
Fernndez,
SPP President

Not only was the concept considered and transformed


in two years, but careful thought and attention was
given to the identity of the operator, the selection
method, the condition of pavements and bus stops,
vehicles, fare, schedule and frequency, interaction with

An Example of Service to Puerto Rico

A bridge is a
link, a
junction, it is
joining from
the most basic
to the virtual
port that can
be conceived
as a bridge
between
cities.
Hermenegildo
Ortiz Quiones

10

other routes and public carriers, operation regulations


of bus lanes, the sequence of traffic lights,
maintenance facilities and terminals. He even created
a new parking police unit (involving organization,
regulations, new laws, uniforms, recruitment and
training, etc.) to ensure that parked vehicles would not
affect bus operations. A promotion and marketing
program was also structured, with students recruited
to guide users at major bus stops during the system
launch. The Secretary watched as a bus route that
barely moved a million passengers a year grew to
transport 7.2 million passengers its first year, despite a
higher fare.

Puerto Rico. Confronted by his smile and arguments,


senior federal officials came to understand that Puerto
Rico was indeed different from, say, Florida, and certain
requirements should be applied with flexibility to
efficiently meet our needs. That is what made possible El
Tren Urbano (San Juans Metro) and various other
infrastructure projects.

In spite of the new emphasis on mass transportation,


during this four-year term HTA accelerated many large
highway projects and paid close attention to the
required and scheduled maintenance of the highway
system and its bridges. The Bridge Evaluation Office
was strengthened and the Pavements Management
Office was created, including the acquisition of the first
vehicle specialized in highway condition assessment.
Innovative projects, recipients of international awards,
were built in record time. These included the Caguana
Bridge, the Teodoro Moscoso Bridge and the twin
overpasses
at
Baldorioty
Expressway
(Don
Hermenegildo always liked bridges).

Wrapping up the activities in tribute to Dr. Ortiz at the


Puerto Rico State Department, this past 7th of January, a
journalist, impressed by the patriotic and public service
history of el Gran Mereyo and others of his generation,
was heard saying: "We dont make them like this
anymore. Soon we will no longer have public servants to
whom pay tributes like this." It would seem so, but
through this article I exhort students and young
professionals, who just now are torn between Puerto
Ricos economic crisis and the lure of "a better quality of
life" someplace else, to take up the challenge and
example of Dr. Hermenegildo Ortiz and, like him, serve
this country with passion, from their particular
professions and realities, and build a better future for
ourselves and our descendants.

He called for sovereign powers for Puerto Rico sine the


times when it was not considered prudent (or even
legal) to express such views, and yet, he also cultivated
very good relationships with federal agencies,
achieving recognition and funding for projects in

In other venues of his life, Dr. Ortiz was a great son,


brother, husband, father, grandfather and Friend. He
wrote, taught, played, planted and sowed; was part of
and directed civic, religious and patriotic institutions, and
even a newspaper. He received dozens of tributes and
never stopped being humble, cheerful and helpful.

Gabriel Andrs Rodrguez Fernndez, PPL, MP, MCIT


Disciple of Mereyo

TRANSPORTATION TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER CENTER

The Best Words Are Ones Own


The best way to describe Dr. Hermenegildo Ortiz
Quiones as I say farewell to him is by using his own
words:
I was born in Humacao, the Grey City of Puerto
Rico, and grew up between poor people and
wealthy people, between people with culture and
those who lacked it; in a town where everyone, in
some way, discussed with our political leaders
what we wanted for our town at the drug store,
at the barber shop, at the coffee shop, at the
town square, at church; in a town where we
walked to school and to the park; in a town
where we knew our heroes and characters; a
town that had sidewalks on which we could walk
and the children who had them could ride their
bicycles; a town where activities were
interrelated: the home, the store, the hospital; a
safe town where one could walk at any time; a
town where the automobile was unnecessary
because public transportation was efficient. A
livable city.
His manners, his tone of voice, his never-ending smile,
his passion for life left a mark in everything he did.
The best words are ones own:
Im not an opponent of free speech. Part of two
of the most discriminated minorities in the world,
I studied at Harvard when blacks and whites were
still segregated; and at Cornell, when I was the
only black and Puerto Rican there that was doing
a PhD. I am not against people expressing
themselves with openness and freedom.

joining from the most basic to the virtual port


that can be conceived as a bridge between
cities.
In my professional life there are three bridges,
three
important
projects
that
began
construction or were completed during my term
as Secretary of Transportation and Public Works
Reynaldo R. Alegra, Esq.
[] which I understand deserve special Lawyer and Economic
distinction for their clear contribution [] to the
Planner
development of the country.
These three projects are: first, the bridge over
the Caguana [sic] River, in Utuado; second, the
overpasses of the Baldorioty de Castro
Expressway; and [] third, the Teodoro Moscoso
Bridge over San Jose Lagoon. Each one of these
projects has its own history and particular
importance in the development of Puerto Ricos
highway infrastructure. All three of them are
living examples of how to use engineering and
management, administration and financial
knowledge in service of a better quality of life
for Puerto Ricans. For, somehow, the three
projects were innovative.
The bridge over the Caguana River in Utuado
was the first pre-stressed curved concrete
bridge built in Puerto Rico and, perhaps in the
world, using the technique of incremental
launching.

When we close this chapter in modern Puerto Rican


history, Hermenegildo Ortiz Quiones will hold a very
important place as a family man, teacher, engineer,
planner, statesman, polemicist, and great Puerto
Rican. His work, his bridge, his train, his family, his
friends, will remain for our celebration and enjoyment
and for that of generations to come.
The best words are ones own:
I dont know how it was, and perhaps I cant
clearly remember when, but one day before
being an engineer I fell in love with bridges.
Their design, their construction, their ingenuity,
and the problems they solve. A bridge, in its most
common definition is something that is built and
above which one can pass. Yet in its broadest
expression a bridge is a link, a junction, it is

EL PUENTE NEWSLETTER, VOL. 29, NO. 1, 2015

Dr. Hermenegildo Ortiz inspecting the construction


of the Caguana River Bridge on PR-10
The overpasses of the Ramon Baldorioty de
Castro Expressway were the first to be installed
Puerto Rico in less than 72 hours, and perhaps
in the world. The Teodoro Moscoso Bridge was
the first public toll bridge in the western
hemisphere built using private financing.

11

The Best Words Are Ones Own


Perhaps now you may understand better why,
when I travel around the world, schedule
special time to visit bridges, because to this
day, I live deeply in love with them.
As a statesman, Hermenegildo Ortiz Quiones
convinced many, including Governor Rafael
Hernandez Colon, whom he convinced to turn
Piero Avenue into an Expressway instead of
Roosevelt Avenue, as he promised during his
campaign. Yet more importantly, he convinced him
to retake the project for the train, which had been
shelved.
The best words are ones own:

His manners,
his tone of
voice, his
never-ending
smile, his
passion for life
left a mark in
everything he
did.
Lic. Reynaldo
Alegra,
Lawyer and
Economic
Planner

[] the development and construction of a


modern mass transit system [meant] forty
years of consistent and fighting efforts from
the Department of Transportation and Public
Works, the blessings of five governors and one
female governor and the firm and sure
steering of at least nine Secretaries of
Transportation and Public Works.
[] Thus, construction of the first tract of the
Urban Train has been possible more for the
vision, passion, and tenacity of many, that like
relay runners have been passing the baton for
forty
years
from
administration
to
administration, than for the more than 3
billion dollars in planning and construction.

Presenting the Mass Transit System Project for the


Metropolitan Area of San Juan at the CIAPR

As a statesman and public servant, Hermenegildo


Ortiz Quiones, faced great challenges. On
December 13th, 2001, as President of the Puerto Rico
Planning Board, he sent a letter to Captain H.J.
Kircher, Chief of Staff for the Southeast Region of
the United States Navy, denying their permit to
continue military operations on the island of
Vieques. The Boards determination, founded on a

12

judicial and moral basis, created a crisis between


governments. When he was asked to appear at La
Fortaleza [Puerto Rico Governors Office] to defend his
position, he left a letter of resignation in a drawer in
his desk. It was not necessary to use it. On May 1st,
2003, the Navy left Vieques.
Student of the Humacao public school system and the
College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts of
Mayaguez where he earned a Bachelors of Science in
Civil Engineering in 1953, he also obtained a Masters
Degree in Urban and Regional Planning at Harvard
University and a Doctorate in Philosophy at Cornell
University.
As a model public servant, Hermengildo Ortiz
Quiones dedicated more than 50 years of his
professional life to government work. He worked at
the Planning Board as an employee, as a Board
Member, and as President; he headed the
Department of Transportation and Public Works; he
was a municipal assemblyman for San Juan y was very
close to all governors in the Popular Democratic Party.
As an academic he was a distinguished Student and
athlete; he was a professor, Director of the Graduate
School of Planning and Dean of Students; after retiring
he continued to teach courses on Planning and Public
Administration. He published hundreds of articles,
gave countless speeches and wrote academic and
personal books, like the one he wrote when he did the
St. James's Trail [Camino de Santiago] with his son,
daughters and grandchildren.
As a politician he was a member of the mythical group
known as Vanguardia Popular [Popular Vanguard] and
of the so-called Group of 22 [Grupo de los 22]; he lived
through the most neuralgic times for the Popular
Democratic Party next to its leaders; he called himself
a sovereignist even when it was not considered wise
to use that word in the Popular Democratic Party; he
ran for Senator for San Juan and was vice-president of
the Puerto Rican Democratic Action Foundation
[Fundacin Accin Democrtica Puertorriquea].
In the civil and institutional life he presided the Board
of Regents of the Central University and was member
of Board of Directors of the Presbyterian Hospital and
the Felisa Rincon de Gautier Foundation; he was
General Manager of the Palique Newspaper, among
many others. I am not afraid to admit that that I must
have forgotten dozens of other works.
Even though many important things were not
TRANSPORTATION TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER CENTER

The Best Words Are Ones Own


completed, Mereyos plan was drafted. Thus, after a
year of work he wrote and recommended a new
planning law and left clear instructions.
The best words are ones own:
The livable city is the city of healthy
convenience, the city of safe living 24 hours a
day, the city that links people to physical
facilities and activities. The livable city is the
city that is walkable, the one where people are
socially active and where the total
interrelationship produces an overall quality of
life.
[] I am talking about bringing closer the use of
physical spaces; allowing people to effectively
use available services and activities to their
fullest. Take for example [] this part of
Santurce. All around us we have hospitals,
businesses, churches, parks, discotheques,
banks, a museum, a soon to be train station,
bars and pubs, cafeterias and restaurants,
services of every kind, including various
government agencies. Thousands of people
come every day, sometimes from very far away
to enjoy the activities that we have here, dont
you think it logical that more people could and
should live here? Wouldnt life be easier for
some people if they live in this part of Santurce?
However, is it easy to walk in this neighborhood
and access these facilities, or do we have to deal
with automobiles so they wont run us over,
with the sun so it wont melt us and with thieves
so they wont mug us?
Imagine having wide and comfortable sidewalks
in this neighborhood, planted with lush trees,
for it to be possible to walk to the supermarket
or the hospital under a blanket of shade and
cool air, that in the evenings and nights we could
use the park, not only to walk our pets, but to
have a conversation with friends. That we could
walk along our streets and trails without having
holes in our sidewalks. That we could jog or walk
to exercise, without fear of being mugged.
On the personal level, Hermenegildo Ortiz Quiones
married Carmen Pajarn 53 years ago, an
extraordinary woman with whom he had three
wonderful children, Carmencita, Alicia and Julio, who
gave him five beautiful grandchildren: Antonio, son of
Alicia; Monica and Sofia, daughters of Carmen; and Lia
EL PUENTE NEWSLETTER, VOL. 29, NO. 1, 2015

and Ramon, children of Julio and Liliana. He had the


pleasure of having exceptional siblings and loving
nieces and nephews both from his siblings as well as
his wife.
As a teacher, Mereyo also left instructions. In his
own words:
In these past years, I have studied the life and
work of Master Rafael Cordero Molina. It is
instructive, fascinating and a model for future
generations. The Master was born in 1790 and
died in 1868, a time in which slavery still
reigned. In 1810, Master Rafael, a son of freed
blacks, opened a free school to educate white,
black, and mulatto children. Many Puerto
Ricans who later held important roles in the
cultural life of the country, began their
education at the school of Master Cordero.
One of them was Alejandro Tapia y River. Don
Alejandro was one of the first to write about
Master Rafael Cordero. In his Memoirs, Tapia y
Rivera wrote that the Master had a wise way
of teaching the heart.
We usually speak of teaching the mind, but not
the heart. So I ask myself: how did Master
Rafael teach his pupils hearts? How can we
interpret Alejandro Tapia y Rivera when he says
that Master Cordero had a wise way of
teaching the heart?
In an article for the Master Rafael Cordero
Circle, I reached the conclusion that when
Master Cordero taught from the heart to the
children,
he
was
teaching
kindness,
compassion, to be loving, to be generous, to be
tolerant, to be honest and sincere, to have
courage. Traits that would accompany them all
of their life so that when they would exercise
their minds and later made sound decisions, as
required of kind, charitable, conscious and
compassionate people aware of the misfortune
of their peers.

Thus I can only


say that his
existence is
proof of a life
well invested, a
full life. That
each and every
one of his loved
ones are echoes
of his
convictions, of
his life lessons,
of his love and
of his joy with
his eternal
smile.
Sofa Victoria,
Granddaughter
of Hermenegildo
Ortiz

Sofia Victoria is one of his granddaughters. In the


words of Sofia Victoria:
Thus I can only say that his existence is proof of
a life well invested, a full life. That each and
every one of his loved ones are echoes of his
convictions, of his life lessons, of his love, and
of his joy with his eternal smile.

13

The Best Words Are Ones Own


Antonio Vega is his grandson.
Antonio Vega:

Yesterday you
became one of
my favorite
memories! I
loved you and
always will love
you. You were
the greatest
thing that ever
happened to
this family.
Guide us from
heaven as you
did on earth.

In the words of

Chief, you left without warning. Always


thinking of us. Thank you for guiding this
family for so many years! You were a
wonderful human being and taught us what
its like to work hard for what we want. Your
humility and eternal joy always left an
impression on Puerto Rico and also on your
family. Yesterday you became one of my
favorite memories! I loved you and always will
love you. You were the greatest thing that
ever happened to this family. Guide us from
heaven as you did on earth. I will always be
your leader and dont worry for I will watch
over your family and our name! I will always
love you Wewo.

The Governor of Puerto Rico has decreed January 7th,


2015 as a national day of mourning in memory of Dr.
Hermenegildo Ortiz Quiones. On that day, at 11:00
AM, the Secretary of State, Dr. David Bernier, calls us
to join him in the Activities Hall at the Department of
State where the activity Anecdotes of Mereyo will be
held. There, past governor Rafael Hernandez Colon
will be the guest speaker remembering Mereyo and
those of you who wish may join us. On that day, when
public servants arrive at their workplaces and citizens
go to receive service, flags on all public buildings in
Puerto Rico will fly at half-mass to honor the memory
of a loving husband, an exceptional father, an
obedient son, a caring brother, an untarnished public
servant, a master teacher, a great Puerto Rican, a
patriot.
In San Juan, Puerto Rico, on January 3rd, 2015.

Antonio Vega,
Grandson of
Hermenegildo
Ortiz

Celebrating his 50th anniversary with his wife, Carmen Pajarn and all his grandchildren

14

TRANSPORTATION TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER CENTER

Don Hermenegildo Ortiz Quiones: A Renaissance Man


We must try to make utopia a viable alternative.
We must put an end to the way of thinking that
leaves Puerto Rico abandoned to its fate''
My grandfather, Don Natalio Encarnacin would
talk to me about the Renaissance. Maybe these
talks stemmed from his love of the fine arts, but as
time progressed, I understood how symbolic
Leonardo Da Vinci was to the movement. He was a
painter, a sculptor, designer of military weapons,
inventor, scientist, etc. Since the day that I met Don
Hermenegildo Ortiz Quiones I was impressed by
his personality that emulated a renaissance man. He
was a man of great intellect and kindness, who
served Puerto Rico with admiration to his fellow
men. I will always remember his sincerity, his smile,
and his generous spirit.
Mereyo was born in his beloved town of Humacao
in 1931. He was one of four sons, educated to
know the value of dedication and hard work. These
virtues were essential in the life of his family, as was
shown by the support of his brothers after the
death of his father that resulted in them growing up
to become professionals. He was a musician and an
athlete, but his passions lied in sports: basketball,
baseball, volleyball, and track and field. I still
remember the years of him playing, still with his
DTOP uniform, competing and representing his
agency. While he was studying civil engineering, he
was a catcher at the college and also was a leader
to his team Mulos del Valenciano, a team coached
by Perucho Cepeda and with the talent of Manoln
Maldonado Denis as pitcher and Roberto Clemente
in center field. Mereyo was such a great player, he
was offered to play professional baseball with the
Mayagez team.
The experiences that Mereyo had while he served
the United States Army always had an impact on
him as an engineer. After serving in Texas and
Washington, D.C., he was transferred to the London
base at the time of the British New Towns Act, a law
whose purpose was to regulate the development of
new towns in the outskirts of the city. This would
earn him a scholarship for the prestigious University
of Harvard in Boston, Massachusetts where he
would study Planning.
Mereyo participated in the making of the
Transportation and Land Use Plan which was
EL PUENTE NEWSLETTER, VOL. 29, NO. 1, 2015

dedicated in the reorganization of the metropolitan


area. His goals included creating urban limits,
resolving the problem of urban sprawl, reducing the
dependency of the automobile and protecting
agricultural reserves.

Eng. Jos Pepe


Izquierdo Encarnacin
President
Puerto Rico Chamber
of Commerce

Presenting the Mass Transit System for the Metropolitan Area of


San Juan with Mayor Hctor Luis Acevedo.

Mereyos
strength and
determination
of the

government as
In 1965, when Dr. Salvador Padilla founded the an instrument
School of Planning at the University of Puerto Rico,
to make the
Source: El Mundo Newspaper Collection, 1990

Mereyo transitioned to the role of professor and


went to Cornell to finish his doctorate in Urban
Planning. In 1974, during the presidency of Rafael
Alonso, he became a member of the Planning Board.
Three years afterwards, he returned to academia,
where he would later receive student complaints as
the Dean of Students. In that phase of his life he was
instrumental in creating peace within the University.
The strikes, political abuse and tear gas had made a
mark on student life. Mereyo, a great mediator,
was able to achieve a balance of ordered
development of the University and the peaceful
participation of the students full of vigorous energy.
This gathering of students and administration would
last several decades.

collective good
was
extraordinary.

Jos M.
Izquierdo
Encarnacin,
President
Chamber of
Commerce
Puerto Rico

During the leadership of Governor Rafael


Hernndez Coln (1989-92), Mereyo was named
Secretary of the Department of Transportation and
Public Works, where he would begin to
conceptualize El Tren Urbano (The Urban Train). To
achieve this he fought with the governor, who
preferred to develop the highway infrastructure.
With the governors authorization and federal funds
he was able to start the planning process.

15

Don Hermenegildo Ortiz Quiones: A Renaissance Man


In 1967 he prepared an extraordinary study
the Caguana Bridge. As a structural engineer, this
regarding the transportation in the metropolitan
project was a great feat. The bridge was constructed
area by the firm Wilburt &
over the Caguana River in
Smith in association with
Utuado and was the first
Don Salvador Padilla for
curved bridge built in
the Department of Public
Puerto Rico and perhaps in
Works. This study had the
the United States using
human being as the center
incremental launching. In
of the city and its
other
words
the
transportation,
construction was done
transportation
as
a
pushing from the pilasters,
service.
The interview
without the use of
with Luis Rafael Rivera
formwork.
tells us: there was no
The development of the
need to start with a
Teodoro Moscoso Bridge
Cadillac, it could be a
was another novel work
Toyota.
The most
accomplished to connect
Presenting the Bridge over San Jos Lagoon project;
expensive vehicles were
the area of Hato Rey with
today the Teodoro Moscoso Bridge
purchased, and lifeless
the Luiz Muoz Marn
stations were constructed.
Airport over the San Jos Lagoon, novel in respect to
Public transit needs to be viewed as a way of
the design and construction. The development was
keeping the city organized; a multi-modal system
possible through a Public Private Alliance, which now
(buses, shared rides, trolleys), not like a single
is a commonality.
In terms of design and
route.
construction, the use of circular steel piles
He accomplished numerous projects as Secretary.
accelerated the construction in an extraordinary
Perhaps the one that first comes to mind are the
manner.
bridges of Baldorioty
Without a doubt, Dr.
de Castro Avenue. As
Ortiz was a star in
a result of lots of
the administration
planning
and
of Governor Rafael
preparation
the
Hernndez
Coln.
duration of the
His strength and
construction lasted
determination of the
one weekend using
government as an
novel methods of
instrument to make
prefabrication.
the collective good
Videos and photos
was extraordinary.
were recorded of the
In 1996, several
days and nights
diverse
groups
during the 72 hour
convinced
him
to
installation
will
run for candidature
remain an important
for a Senator for
part of history. His
With
Gov.
Rafael
Hernndez
Coln
and
Jorge
Bigas,
Executive
Director
of
San Juan (PPD).
great smile became
the
Puerto
Rico
Highway
Authority,
1989.
Source:
El
Mundo
Newspaper
Their hopes were
even greater with
in the Humacaothe satisfaction of
born
citizen
who
was
incapable
of overlooking the
finishing on time. The only problem was that after
problems of their city. Such examples of these
accomplishing this great feat, all projects were
problems that the citizens would constantly face
desired to be done in 72 hours time. Another
included: obstacles in the sidewalks and visual
project important to engineering in Puerto Rico was

16

TRANSPORTATION TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER CENTER

Don Hermenegildo Ortiz Quiones: A Renaissance Man


contamination such as damaged or vandalized signs.
I had the pleasure of attending several campaign
meetings and it was in those meetings I witnessed
the dreams that are possible for a Puerto Rico with
order and service to the public. A city alive, open,
with real function, not a fictitious function, with an
urban area with a mixed, participative public that
generates mixed uses instead of ghettos.
In 2001, Mereyo was appointed as the Planning
Board President for the Governor Sila Maria
Caldern. Mereyo was the architect in the

implementation of the Urban Center Program which


was an essential part of the governments platform.
I remember the numerous discussions of policies and
outlines. In those discussions we learned the
concepts of Planning Action, or in other words,
planning that develops the society. It was he who
denied permission to the Navy to practice military
practices since twenty percent of the bombs fell on
sea-land and prevailed.
Unfortunately for our country, for reasons I believe
had to do with the overwhelming development
occurring at that time, Mereyo abruptly ended this
position.
Mereyo served the country until his last day. He
was always kind and generous with everyone. I
remember in occasions where I would be appointed
to a new position, I would receive a bowtie in the
mail that would be his way of showing me his
affection and professionalism. I will always treasure
this privilege.

Former Governor Sila M. Caldern appointing


Mereyo as President of the Puerto Rico Planning
Board, 2001

The interview of Luis Rafael Rivera of the newspaper,


el Nuevo Da, and the Reynaldo Alegrias Blog were
the base of quotes and dates in this recognition to as
extraordinary professional that dedicated his life to
public service.

Since the day


that I met Don
Hermenegildo
Ortiz Quiones I
was impressed
by his
personality that
emulated a
renaissance
man. He was a
man of great
intellect and
kindness, who
served Puerto
Rico with
admiration to
his fellow men.
Eng. Jos Pepe
Izquierdo
Encarnacin
CCPR President

An extraordinary professional that dedicated his life to public service


EL PUENTE NEWSLETTER, VOL. 29, NO. 1, 2015

17

Posthumous Tribute to Dr. Hermenegildo Ortiz Mereyo


Dr. Uroyon Walker, President of the University
of Puerto Rico, Dr. Carlos Severino, Chancellor,
Advice Members, Ladies, Gentlemen, Friends,
good evening.

Mara del C. Ortiz


Daughter
Dr. Hermenegildo
Ortiz Quiones

On behalf of our family, we express our most


profound gratitude for having taken the time to
accompany us in this very special ceremony,
where the University of Puerto Rico honors the
memory of Dr. Hermenegildo Ortiz Quiones,
affectionately known as Mereyo.

Livable City First Congress, SPP 2002

Trying to summarize his work in a few words can


be more than a challenge, since our father
distinguished himself in many areas of the Puerto
Rican society. Also, they have already been
shown by the media. For this reason I would like
to talk to you about my fathers upbringing and
where his greatness lies.
Hermenegildo was born in Humacao, Puerto Rico
on April 10th, 1931. The 4th son of a humble
couple, Carmen and Hermenegildo. My
grandmother, Im not sure if out of being tired or
that she was out of arguments, had to accept
him being named Hermenegildo and that is how
he came to be known as Mereyo, to differentiate
him from my grandfather who was Merejo.
He grew up spoiled by his sister Carmen, 3 years
older than him, and always running trying to

18

catch up to his brothers. They say that as a boy he


was interested in transportation, since he wanted
to be a garbage truck driver when he grew up.
When he was 11 years old, he was left fatherless
and his brother Eduardo, Eddie, together with his
mother took over the household. My uncle halted
his studies and started working so the rest of his
siblings could study.
Product of the public school system, not only was
he a good student, my father was also a
distinguished athlete, especially in baseball, as a
catcher. He would tell us that when he was in
Mayaguez, he had to decide where his future
would go: the sport that was holding him back or
engineering. However, the fear and respect for his
mother led him to become a licensed Civil Engineer
in 1953. He served in the United States Army as a
Sergeant and afterwards was awarded a
scholarship from the Government of Puerto Rico to
attend Harvard University, where he obtained a
Masters Degree in Urban Design in 1958. He
experienced years of fear and humiliation for being
black and Puerto Rican, however that strengthened
him and showed him how disadvantaged people
feel.
Our fathers example, apart from his siblings and
especially Eddie, was Don Aquedo Mojica, a selftaught famous leader from Humacao, in whose
house renowned personalities would have
gatherings to discuss various topics. Thus the
distinctive use of the bowtie was born, as Don
Aguedo also used it.
My father met my mother Carmen Pajarin, a
beautiful Spanish gal from Madrid, who was on
vacation for 3 months and renewed her visa to
marry. Then on December 31st, 1961, our parents
decided to form a family. They say opportunities
are painted bald and both won in that decision
(meaning one must take the chance head-on when
it comes).
In 1978 he completed a Ph.D. at Cornell University.
During these years my father started working
towards the country we all know. Initially in the
Puerto Rico Planning Board and later at the
TRANSPORTATION TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER CENTER

Posthumous Tribute to Dr. Hermenegildo Ortiz Mereyo


University of Puerto Rico as founder, together with
Dr. Salvador Padilla Asensio, RIP, of the Graduate
School of Planning in 1965. He was also Dean of
Students from 1986 to 1988, streamlining and
simplifying
the enrollment
process
and
implementing two graduations per year, among
others. My father was a university professor most
of his professional career, and was at the university
where he established friendships with his fellow
professors and his students who later helped him
in his vision to become an extraordinary public
service for our beloved Puerto Rico. Great friends
who helped him achieve his goals and kept him
busy until his final days, seeking his knowledge and
making him feel needed. Today we share his
achievements with all his friends, colleagues and
with the people of Puerto Rico, because it is known
that our father could not have done this urban
transformation alone.

was black, he won them over with his knowledge,


his smile, and his impeccable attire. His example
taught us that not all battles are won by fighting,
that a smile can win over the toughest critic, that
it is important to cultivate the art of listening with
respect in order to be heard, and to trust your
fellow man and accept them without
reservations. He poured his heart into everything
he did. That is why we are all here, honoring that
love he gave us.
In the fall of 2010 we received the news that he
had Parkinsons disease. It was very difficult to
watch as a man that was always moving,
participating in so many activities, contributing in
so many places slowly lose his Independence. He
never showed neither fear nor pain and accepted
these changes with dignity. He went with the
flow, fighting until the end. Hermenegildo died as
he lived. With purpose, planning and
contemplating the future, silently, without noise,
and with dignity.
Along his lifetime, his work for the country has
been recognized in many occasions. This past 4th
of November, 2014, the Graduate School of
Planning paid a heartwarming tribute which made
him very happy. And it is for our family, within
this great pain, an immense joy that his last
tribute be also held at the University of Puerto
Rico. Thank you all.

However, my fathers greatness, in my humble


opinion, lies the unconditional and intense love he
had for what he did, and devoted himself to that
love without reservations, completely, and without
fear. It is that love which guided his steps. He loved
and revered his parents and siblings, deeply loved
and gave himself to this country, fighting to make it
better, always through knowledge, with the
satisfaction of a job well done to perfection. He
didnt allow that the hate or the indifference of
others undermine his confidence. By recognizing
his shortcomings, he was able to convert them into
his strengths. He showed us that we all can strive
to be better people. That in order to overcome the
first impression others had of him, forgetting he
EL PUENTE NEWSLETTER, VOL. 29, NO. 1, 2015

However, my
fathers
greatness, in my
humble
opinion, lies the
unconditional
and intense
love he had for
what he did,
and devoted
himself to that
love without
reservations,
completely, and
without fear.
Mara del
Carmen Ortiz
Daugther of
Hermenegildo
Ortiz

19

The Livable City, Our Dear Mereyos Dream


When I received the invitation to write this article
about Dr. Hermenegildo Ortiz Quiones I
immediately accepted, but I must confess it has
been a great challenge, first because of his
multiple virtues as a human being and his
qualities as a professional, and secondly because
I fear not being able to find the right words to
describe the professor, the colleague, the friend,
Martha Bravo Colunga and the excellent public servant. Therefore, I will
Planning Supervisor of
limit myself to sharing with you some of his
DTOP/ACT
expressions on the topic of the Livable City, that
city of which he spoke of in academia, and from
his efforts as Secretary of the Department of
Transportation and Public Works and as
President of the Planning Board, the dream of
our esteemed colleague and friend, the dream of
planners, the dream of all of us who wish for a
better quality of life for Puerto Rico.
I was never able to address him as Mereyo, for
me he was always Doctor Ortiz. I met him in 1980
when I arrived in Puerto Rico to start my master
degree in Planning at the Graduate School of
Planning of the University of Puerto Rico, Rio
Piedras Campus, and already from his lectures I
learned to recognize and value the wisdom of his
silences.

Together with Dr. Salvador Padilla, his friend and


colleague, he was advisor of my planning project,
and later gave me the opportunity in
participating in a research project about the
historic zone of Ponce.
In 1989, as Secretary of the DTPW he invited
me to be his Special Assistant for Planning.
This meant a change in my professional

20

career and a new challenge, which I faced with


enthusiasm and determination, an excellent
experience of continuous learning and a great
opportunity to serve the people of Puerto Rico.
Thus, as I learned and worked with highway
and transportation plans, thanks to his example
my love grew for this beautiful island in which I
decided to stay and adopt as my second home.
During the celebration of the Planning Week, in
September 1990, the Puerto Rican Planning Society
awarded him the Pedro Tirado Lameiro Award as
the most distinguished Planning Professional for his
long history as a public servant, educator,
researcher, writer, and for his contribution to the
social and economic development of the country.
Upon receiving this award, Doctor Ortiz invited his
fellow planners to be active in the planning, design,
and implementation of strategies for social action,
thus emphasizing the social value of planning.
In 1992, during one of his lectures on
transportation and urban development, Doctor
Ortiz said: the boundary between urban and
rural in Puerto Rico is becoming more diffused
every day, not only in terms of Construction but
also in terms of the expectations, values and life
styles, and in the use of available land, rural areas
have become land waiting to be urbanized. The
result has been our extreme dependence on the
private automobile as a method of transportation
with longer trips due to congested roads, and a
sprawled growth, one of low population density
and high density land use in scattered activities,
which is simply no longer a viable development
model for our cities. Due to the lack of a Land Use
Plan, this is something that still has not changed.
Looking towards the 21st century, we face the
challenge of redeveloping our cities and
transforming our mass transit system. Our cities of
the future must return to the integration of
functions and heterogeneity: that we may live,
work, shop, procure services, and enjoy ourselves
in one same area or in areas that are relatively
nearby.
In his vision of the Livable City, Doctor Ortiz said:
We want attractive and aesthetically pleasing
cities that facilitate coexistence. Well thought and
constructed cities for pedestrians and not for
private automobiles, even though the latter may
have its place and routes within them. It has been
TRANSPORTATION TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER CENTER

The Livable City, Our Dear Mereyos Dream


more than twenty years since he expressed these
words and every day we stray further away from
that goal.

reduce pollution, a system that would be an


integral part of the city, and that is why he named
it Tren Urbano [Urban Train].

As Secretary of the DTPW, he continuously


emphasized that road and transportation plans
should be designed in the context of the city that
we aspire to be in this historic beginning of the 21st
Century, devoting resources to improve and more
efficiently
manage
existing
facilities,
complementing them with new roads only in the
corridors that so require it and adequately
addressing the aspects of aesthetics and
urbanism.

Doctor Ortiz stated that building this


transportation system, of course would entail
costs, however, not building it would cost us our
continuing reliance on the private automobile as
the main mode of transport in the city, which
apart from impacting family budgets, it would
continue costing the city and the country in the
We will always
deterioration of their urban centers, in urban
sprawl, in loss of rural land, in taxes aimed at remember his
wisdom and
public services and infrastructure to serve even
more disperse urban developments, in loss of
humility, his
economic
growth
potential
to
attract
example as a
international activity. In general, not building it
good public
would cost many more billions in
servant, the
deterioration of the urban,
economic, natural, and
love for his
social environment. family and for
The Urban Train
Puerto Rico,
was built, but
Doctor
Ortiz and his vision of
lamented
that the accessible,
the
project
inclusive,
strayed very much
livable city.
from serving as an
element
for
Plan. Martha
reorganizing our urban
spaces, however he continued to Bravo Colunga
work for his dream, carrying the message of the
Planning
walkable city, the safe city, the livable city.

He firmly believed that we must develop public


transit systems that would be efficient,
dependable and safe, vehicular congestion will
not be relieved by constructing
more highways, this is only
achieved momentarily,
since solving the
problem produces a
new
attraction
which encourages
even more the use
of
the
automobile. We
must turn to a
multimodal
system
where work and the use of
the private automobile are not
synonymous, so that we can reduce vehicle
congestion in our cities, shorten travel time
between destinations and improve our urban
environment. Yet, apart from efficient and safe,
our modes of transportation should positively
target our urban environment, by being
aesthetically attractive, both at the street,
highway, and public transit corridor level.
For the purpose enabling this transportation
system, in 1991 legislation was approved to
broaden the functions of the Highway Authority to
turn it into the Highway and Transportation
Authority and reaffirm the authority of the
Secretary of the DTPW to formulate and
implement public policy on transportation. Thus,
Doctor Ortiz proposed a heavy rail mass transit
system that would not only serve as an efficient
mean of moving people, but also this system would
contribute to reorganize urban development and
EL PUENTE NEWSLETTER, VOL. 29, NO. 1, 2015

We will always remember his wisdom and


humility, his example as a good public servant,
the love for his family and for Puerto Rico, and his
vision of the accessible, inclusive, livable city. It
was a privilege to be part of his team. His legacy
will continue to be an inspiration for those of us
who are committed to keep working towards a
better Puerto Rico, for those of us who want to
be part of the construction of the livable city
Mereyo dreamed of.

Supervisor of
DTOP

Martha Bravo Colunga, PPL


Forever Student of Mereyo

21

In Honor to the Memory of My Father


There were three (3) principles that governed
my fathers life. The importance of knowledge in
the formation of a complete human being, the
satisfaction and pride of a job well done, and
the deep love for everything he did, especially
for Puerto Rico.

Mara del C. Ortiz


Daughter
Dr. Hermenegildo
Ortiz Quiones

Since he was a child my father learned that


through study, in his case an opportunity which
he took full advantage of, one marks the
difference between being or simply existing.
Furthermore, he understood that if he only
focused on his strengths, results would not be
so convincing. And with blind faith in himself,
and from the humility of recognizing that one
can always be better, he dedicated himself to
turn his weaknesses into strengths. For
example, to counteract his lack of speech
fluency, he studied the art of writing with
meaning, and to conceal his shyness, he
created his weapon of mass destruction, his
eternal smile.
He also learned, through the example of his
parents, that a job should be done right; that the
effort, tenacity, will, perseverance, and
determination put into any task, be it large or
small, brought joy to the soul, even if the results
were not what we expected. That the
homeland, just as the mother, we must love

above all and seek its wellbeing by providing far


more than what was received.
The University and especially the Graduate
School of Planning, was and still is his chosen
place to put in practice the above mentioned.
Where he has also cultivated his friendships with
fellow professors and students, who later
accompanied him during his other government
efforts. Friends that to this day continue seeking
his knowledge and experience. For us, our
fathers occupation was always University
Professor. And his achievements up to that
moment were already enough to remember him
by. Yet, he always recognized that the
culmination of all his sleepless nights, of all his
effort, of everything learned came at the hands of
Governor Rafael Hernandez Colon, who trusted
him as his Secretary for the Department of
Transportation and Public Works. We know the
results of his accomplishments.
In the past few years, his efforts for the country
has been recognized in many occasions.
However, in a humble way, his being named as a
Man of State by the Governor of Puerto Rico and
being distinguished among men and women that
have also done so much for Puerto Rico, fills us
with much pride and drives us to follow his
example.

Taking oath at Secretary of the Department of Transportation and Public Works by Rafael Alonso
Alonso, the Associate Supreme Court Judge during a ceremony held at the University of Puerto
Rico, Humacao campus and accompanied by his wife Doa Carmen Pajarn. Source: El Mundo
Collection, UPR-RP

22

TRANSPORTATION TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER CENTER

Hermenegildo Ortiz Quiones: A Puerto Rican for History


During the depression of the decade of the 30s of the
past century, Humacao was a town with the Catholic
Church at the center and barely five or six paved roads,
the rest were unpaved. That was our Puerto Rico,
without expressways or luxury vehicles, without 20 or
30 story buildings, nor millionaires with mansions. Our
people had less, but we were richer.
It was in that Humacao, which in a brief synthesis I will
describe and in which I had the privilege of meeting
Hermenegildo Ortiz Quiones, whom practically
everyone referred to him as Mereyo. He was around
nine years old and was in the fourth grade, and my
sister Yolanda was his classmate. I was barely seven
years old and studying in the second grade.
Mereyo belongs to a simple family, very respected,
admired and loved in our town, whose family head was
Don Hermenegildo (Merejo) and Doa Carmen
Quiones. His siblings were Julio Armando (Coca),
Eduardo (Eddie), and Carmen Aurora (Mima). Coca was
a medical surgeon; Eddie was a Professor at the UPR
Law School, and a Superior Judge; Mima was a
Professor of Mathematics at the UPR; and Mereyo was
an engineer, Professor and Founder of the Graduate
School of Planning of the UPR, and also past Secretary
of the Department of Transportation and Public Works
of Puerto Rico.

study engineering at the College of Mayagez and I


went to the UPR in Rio Piedras, we spent years with
him as the catcher and fourth cleanup batter of
Mayagez and I as the catcher and eighth batter at
the UPR.
Mereyo would play baseball with the consent of his
older brothers, but hidden from Doa Carmen, who
thought her son as only studying at the College of
Mayagez. His undeniable talent for baseball made
the Juncos AA Team, one of the most famous baseball Lic. Osvaldo Gil Bosch
Past President
teams since the 40s, recruit and sign him on.
Amateur Baseball
However, his engineering studies limited his
Federation of Puerto
participation.
Rico

A family
man,
a successful
professional,
Future Stars Humacao team, 1945
Mereyo, fourth from right

Mrs. Carmen Quiones with her children Eduardo,


Mereyo, Carmen and Julio

Being an era without television and where only a few


homes had a radio, practically all the children played
sports. Essentially that was the way my friendship
started with Mereyo, one which spanned over three
quarters of a century. A friendship that, through the
years became tight-knit until it became unbreakable
and which reached its end weeks ago, when time
stopped for Mereyo.
The Mereyo I knew, apart from being a talented
student, was also an excellent baseball player. He was
a high averaging baseball hitter, one who hit line drives
when there were runners on base and the fate of the
game hung in the balance. He was usually catcher, but
due to our great friendship, so I could also play I was
also a catcher Mereyo convinced the coach to let him
play First Base. That is how we played together in
Humacao in the categories of Future Stars and Juvenile
Stars, and in the High School Varsity. When he left to
EL PUENTE NEWSLETTER, VOL. 29, NO. 1, 2015

As a person, Mereyo was courteous, sometimes shy


and simple attitudes with cordial reactions. I never
saw him upset, raise his voice or have an argument
with someone. He never got into a fistfight,
something that was very common during those times.
It seemed as if he had a giant lock on his emotions
and his marvelous smile served as a direct bridge to
the hearts of those that knew him. He was extremely
humble. I never heard him boast, brag, or mention his
many achievements as a student, athlete, public
servant, professor, planner, professional or family
head. His indescribable simplicity would not allow it.
Knowing him for years, I can attest to the nobility of
his kindness, the gentleness of his efforts, and the
depth of his emotions.
As he left the world of the living, Mereyo received fair
and well-deserved recognition and appreciation from
the government, the academia, his colleagues and
disciples, friends, and especially his Dear Family for
which he enriched us all and his beloved Puerto Rico.

a renowned
public
servant...
A first class
citizen
Lic. Osvaldo Gill

A Family Man; a Successful Professional; a renowned


Public Servant; a First Class Citizen.
Here is a brief synthesis of Mereyo, a Puerto Rican for
History. AS SIMPLE AS DEFINITIVE AS ACCEPTABLE AS
INDISPUTABLE...

23

Bridging the Gap: A Memory of the Teodoro Moscoso Bridge


Good morning. First let me express my gratitude to
Mr. Kenneth Vlez, President of the Student
Chapter of the Institute of Transportation Engineer
at UPRM for his humble invitation to take part in
this group discussion, in which we celebrate with
great joy the first 100 years of the Department of
Civil Engineering and Surveying at UPRM. As todays
Hermenegildo Ortiz topic is history of transportation in Puerto Rico, I
Quiones
would like to highlight three projects that were
completed or began construction between 1989
and 1992, while I held the position of Secretary of
Mereyos last Transportation and Public Works of the
public address Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. These three
projects were: first, the bridge over the Caguana
2014 ITE-UPRM River, on the PR-10 Expressway from Arecibo to
Utuado; second, the overpasses along the
Baldorioty de Castro Expressway; and third, the
Transportation Teodoro Moscoso Bridge. All three of them are
Engineering
living examples of how technology can be used
Week
along with management, economic and financial
knowledge in benefit of the people. These projects
At the celebration were innovative and first of their kind. Two of
of the
them, the Overpasses and the Teodoro Moscoso
Bridge, are highlighted in the epic work by the
distinguished historian Guillermo A. Baralt, Una de
Cal y Otra de Arena: Panorama Histrico de la
Construccin en Puerto Rico, 1493-2004. The
Caguana River Bridge was the first curved prestressed concrete bridge in Puerto Rico built using
the technique of incremental launching. The
Baldorioty Overpasses were the first in Puerto Rico
and perhaps the world, to be installed in less than
th
100 anniversary 72 hours each. The Teodoro Moscoso Bridge was
the first toll bridge in the Western Hemisphere to

of the
Civil Engineering
Program

at the
University of
Puerto RicoMayagez.

24

be built through a concession using private financing.


The three projects were well received and received
awards from the renowned College of Engineers and
Surveyors of Puerto Rico. Los tres proyectos fueron
bien recibidos y premiados por el ilustre Colegio de
Ingenieros y Agrimensores. Additionally, the
Baldorioty Overpasses received the Harry E. Edward
Industry Advancement Award and the Teodoro
Moscoso Bridge also received the Highway Finance
Innovative Award from the United States Department
of Transportation. Due to time constraints, on this
morning I will focus on the Teodoro Moscoso Bridge.
Of the three projects, the Teodoro Moscoso Bridge
was the most controversial and generated the most
opponents. Some called it a chimeric dream or a
quixotic fantasy. Others thought it was a publicity
stunt to win votes before the elections. Once built, a
corrupt congressman who is still in prison, stated and
asked publicly not to use the Teodoro Moscoso
Bridge. Others assured the project would be an
economic failure and predicted it would go bankrupt.
Fortunately, up until now the Teodoro Moscoso
Bridge has resulted in all but the contrary, a true
success.

MUCH MORE THAN THE CONSTRUCTION OF A


BRIDGE
On March 12th, 1989, Governor Rafael Hernandez
Colon gave his state of the state address to the
Legislative branch. The Governor took this
opportunity to announce, as one of the largest
projects of his third term (1989-1992), the
construction of the Bridge over the San Jose Lagoon.
The truth is, the Project was much more than the
construction of a bridge. The Governor described
the project in the following manner:
For a metropolitan and fluid traffic, we began
working on the Baldorioty de Castro Expressway.
We will also transform Roosevelt Avenue into an
expressway, in such a way that we can go from
the Las Americas Expressway to the Baldorioty
Expressway through a bridge over the San Jose
Lagoon.
Furthermore, the Governor had told me
personally that times ahead would be of ever
increasing demand for public services and facilities
while lack of public funding to satisfy it would be
noticeable. The Governor proposed that we
should look for new instruments capable of
securing funding and private equity in order to
Acknowledgment by the ITE-UPRM during the celebration of finance public transportation and infrastructure
Transportation Week 2014
projects. Other countries had done it. The
Governor would say, we should study these
TRANSPORTATION TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER CENTER

Bridging the Gap: A Memory of the Teodoro Moscoso Bridge


experiences in order to finance the construction of
the Bridge over the San Jose Lagoon using private
equity.
THE MODEL OF PRIVATE CONCESSIONS
To fulfill the task given by the Governor of seeking
better financial instruments we dedicated ourselves
to the task of collecting and analyzing information,
theory as well as practical, on the use of private
equity in the construction of highways and public
transportation projects. From the compiled
information and taking into consideration the
experiences of European countries and legislation by
the State of California, we refined and created a
model for private concessions or in more modern
terms partnerships between the public and private
sectors for the financing, design, construction,
operation, and maintenance of toll highways and
bridges for Puerto Rico. The model came to be law
when the Governor of Puerto Rico signed Law 41 of
1990. Said law created what came to be known as the
Program of Private Concessions for Toll Highways of
Puerto Rico.

of scarce public funding.


We had chosen a model of concession for Puerto
Rico. Concession means a contract between the
DTPW, as owner of the project, and a private entity,
as a concessionaire, in which the latter agrees to
build a public transportation project with private
funds and has the right to operate it for a previously
agreed fixed period of time. Once the time period
has passed, the right to operate reverts to the
DTPW, at no cost, later the DTPW may decide to
continue operating the facility or transfer the
maintenance and operation of the facility to a
private company.
Throughout the entire process, the project or built
work remains property of the DTPW at all times. As a
result, there are no assets sales and therefore, the
concession does not constitute a privatization in its
classical sense. However, financing is private.
The law also creates a Board of Contract Awarding
composed by the President of the Government
Development Bank, the Secretary of Consumer
Affairs and the Secretary of the Treasury. The
president of this board was the President of the
Government Development Bank, The Board was
responsible for awarding bids included in Law 41 and
ensure compliance with the Law and its regulations.
MODIFICATIONS TO THE BRIDGE PROJECT

Presenting a project of the Department of Transportation and


Public Works to former Governor Hernndez Coln and Jorge
Bigas, Executive Director PRHA

Once approved, the new law enabled the Department


of Transportation and Public Works (DTPW) and the
Highway and Transportation Authority (PRHTA) to
negotiate contracts with private organizations and
use private funding to carry out the final design,
construction, operation, and maintenance of new
highways and bridges. With this new law Puerto Rico
broke free of the traditional mold in which the
government was the only one with the ability to
finance public transportation projects. A new
mechanism was being created which allowed and
promoted the involvement of private enterprise in
the financing of transportation projects, during times
EL PUENTE NEWSLETTER, VOL. 29, NO. 1, 2015

Before implementing Law 41 of 1990, it was


necessary to attend some concerns which we
considered made it almost impossible to develop the
project just as it had been presented in the State of
the State address. The biggest concerns was related
to the project of converting Roosevelt Avenue into
an expressway. We considered that expropriating or
acquiring the properties on one side of the Avenue
and whatever was necessary from the communities
of Cantera and Israel would take more than a
decade. Furthermore, access to the bridge from
Roosevelt Avenue could not begin until the
monumental process of expropriations and
relocation of families in the communities of Israel
and Cantera. It was my best judgment that this
project could not begin in 1992, as Governor
Hernandez Colon had promised in his State of the
State address.

I was born in
Humacao, the
Grey City of
Puerto Rico,
and grew up
between poor
people and
wealthy
people,
between
people with
culture and
those who
lacked it; a
town where
the automobile
was
unnecessary
because public
transportation
was efficient. A
livable city..
Hermenegildo
Ortiz Quiones

We presented the Governor a new alternative that


used Piero Avenue as an expressway instead of
Roosevelt Avenue and would later connect with
Trujillo Alto Avenue, and from there continue to the
Luis Munoz Marin Airport via a bridge the San Jose

25

Bridging the Gap: A Memory of the Teodoro Moscoso Bridge

To counteract
his lack of
speech
fluency, he
studied the art
of writing with
meaning, and
to conceal his
shyness, he
created his
weapon of
mass
destruction,
his eternal
smile.
Mara del
Carmen Ortiz,
Daughter of
Hermenegildo
Ortiz

Lagoon. We believed this alternative was superior


from a traffic point of view, as well as less
expensive, it would reduce construction time and
costs, both economic and social. Land acquisition
and relocation of families, if any, would be kept at a
minimum. They would have direct access to the
Trujillo Alto Expressway and eventually, in that
time, to the future Route 66 from Rio Piedras to Rio
Grande. The environmental impact would be much
less than other alternatives, especially the one
proposed in the Transportation and Land Use Plan
for the Metropolitan Region of San Juan, which was
in effect at that time. Governor Hernandez Colon
finally gave his approval to the alternative that
proposed the expressway conversion of Piero
Avenue and the construction of the bridge as a
continuation of the Trujillo Alto Expressway over
the San Jose Lagoon until connecting with the
future Baldorioty de Castro Expressway at the
entrance to the Luis Munoz Marin Airport.

The proposals were received on April 30th, 1991. These


were scrutinized by a committee formed by
technicians of the DTPW, from the Highway and
Transportation Authority, and from the Government
Development Bank. The proposal by Autopistas de
Puerto Rico [Highways of Puerto Rico] was considered
by many as the best and most complete. As a result,
the consortium of Autopistas was selected in June of
1991 to negotiate a concession contract for the Bridge
over the San Jose Lagoon Bridge.
The contract was a result of the negotiations, the
major issues were easily resolved, others required
time, analysis and external consulting. Once the DTPW
and Autopistas finished negotiating the contract,
Autopistas was then required to negotiate with the
Contracts and Adjudications Regulatory Board.
PRIVATE TECHNICAL MANAGEMENT

CONCESSIONAIRE SELECTION
The project progressed as planned and in
accordance to the provisions of Law 41 of 1990. The
legislation established that the concessionaire
selection process would be open, objective, and
free. By an open process it was understood that it
would be one where there would be no quotas or
limits to the number of potential prequalified
concessionaires. For the process to be objective,
measureable selection parameters were used in a
clear and concrete manner. On the other hand,
potential bidders were not required to provide any
payment or bond to enter the bidding process.
As a first step, announcements were published, in
English and Spanish, in all major newspapers asking
for letters of qualifications to consortiums or
companies interested in doing the project. To our

26

surprise and satisfaction, seven firms or consortiums


submitted letters of qualification for the Bridge over
San Jose Lagoon project. Out of those seven, three
were qualified. It was requested that all three firms
present proposals to execute the project for the
Bridge over San Jose Lagoon with private funding.
Together with the application, they were provided
with information about the public policy of the DTPW
on private concession projects, a detailed description
and a conceptual design of the project for the Bridge
over the San Jose Lagoon, axial traffic estimates, as
well as the criteria to be used in the evaluation.

Another firm that played an important and decisive


role in the development of the Bridge over the San
Jose Lagoon was Private Management Consultants
(PMC). They performed varied and multiple tasks with
great efficiency, managed the necessary permits with
21 federal, state and, municipal agencies; oversaw the
project feasibility studies; revised the Bridges
construction plans and construction cost estimates;
prepared the concession contract and the
environmental documents, among many other tasks.
PMC gathered the resources of Corporate Planners,
Inc. (CORPLAN), the law firm of Atty. Peter Trias,
Lebrn Associates and Post, Buckley, Schuh &
Jernigan.
THE CONCESSION CONTRACT
The concession contract proved to be an extremely
long and relatively detailed one. Furthermore, it was
written in English to prevent complications when we
presented it to investors and credit agencies in New
York. The contract gathered the agreements reached
TRANSPORTATION TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER CENTER

Bridging the Gap: A Memory of the Teodoro Moscoso Bridge


by Autopistas de Puerto Rico, the DTPW and the
PRHTA relating to the final design, construction,
operation, and maintenance of the Bridge over the
San Jose Lagoon, which came to be called the
Teodoro Moscoso Bridge following the provisions of
law no. 4 of August 23rd, 1990. On one hand, DTPW
and PRHTA commit to grant Autopistas de Puerto Rico
an administrative concession with which the
concessionaire has exclusive rights to operate and
maintain the Teodoro Moscoso Bridge and collect
fees for its use during the duration of this agreement.
Considering this right, Autopistas de Puerto Rico
commits to preparing the final design and developing
and building the the Teodoro Moscoso Bridge and
once accepted by the DTPW and the PRHTA, operate,
maintain, and administrate it. It was also part of the
agreement that the Bridge, once accepted, would be
transferred to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to
become part of its assets and transportation system.
Autopistas de Puerto Rico has the right to set rates
and collect toll for the use of the Bridge. Autopistas
will invest and secure the necessary financing to
complete the final design and build, operate and
maintain the Bridge. For such purposes, Autopistas
may raise capital and issue bonds.
The original agreement was valid for 35 years,
beginning on the day it was signed. Also, the Bridge
was to be completed for use by no later than April of
1994. Autopistas de Puerto Rico pledged to keep the
Bridge in use 24 hours a day, every day, except for
temporary periods needed for rehabilitation or due to

force majeure.
ACCELERATED CONSTRUCTION
The contract that awarded the concession to
Autopistas de Puerto Rico to carry out the final
design, finance, build, maintain, and operate the
Teodoro Moscoso Bridge was signed in April of 1992.
The first pile in the project was driven by the end of
June of that same year. The Bridge was inaugurated,
20 months later, on February 24th 1994. In the year
2011-2012 annual average traffic on the Teodoro
Moscoso Bridge was 6 million vehicles or the
equivalent of 16,500 daily.
The Bridge was built much faster than what was
planned. The project was already almost complete by
October of 1993. The technology and construction
methods used explain in part the speed of
construction. The Bridge has a length of 2.25 km and
required driving 482 metallic 42 inch diameter piles.
Its construction also required 800 prestressed beams
and 80,000 cofferdam slabs, all produced at a precast
production plant in Carolina, which were later
transported to the Bridge worksite.
In summary, the Teodoro Moscoso Bridge
represented the adoption of a new focus in public
policy which opposed the traditional government
focus in the development of its transportation
facilities. Its greatest meaning lies in its potential to
generate national heritage through the use of private
equity.

"He loved and


reverence to
his parents and
his brothers, he
deeply loved
and gave
himself entirely
to this country,
struggling to do
better, always
with the
knowledge and
satisfaction of
a job done to
perfection."
Mara del
Carmen Ortiz
Daughter of
Hermenegildo
Ortiz

Teodoro Moscoso Bridge over San Jos Lagoon

EL PUENTE NEWSLETTER, VOL. 29, NO. 1, 2015

27

PR LTAP Center Staff


Director & Editor
Benjamn Colucci Ros
Administrative Staff

Irmal Franco Ramrez


Adlin M. Santos Vlez
Grisel Villarrubia Echevarra

Assistant Editors

Sionel A. Arocho Meaux


Yanira Rivera Matas
Johnathan Ruz Gonzlez
Wilmari Valentn Medina

Support Staff

Marivic Hernndez Quezada


Karla Matos
Maribel Turner Ros

Photo from Abertis Flickr page (Source: https://flic.kr/p/agaJx8)

EL PUENTE is published by the Puerto Rico Transportation Technology


Transfer Center located at the Department of Civil Engineering and Surveying
of the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez.

Graphic Art Cover Page

Anne M. Mndez Ramrez

EL PUENTE Newsletter
VOL. 29, NO. 01, 2015

EL PUENTE
NEWSLETTER
PUERTO RICO TRANSPORTATION
TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER CENTER
University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez
Department of Civil Engineering and Surveying
Call Box 9000, Mayaguez, PR 00681
787.834.6385 PHONE
787.265.5695 FAX

www.prltap.org

Puerto Rico LTAP

The opinions, findings or recommendations expressed in this newsletter are those of the Center Director and Editor and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Federal
Highway Administration, the Puerto Rico Department of Transportation and Public Works, the Puerto Rico Highway and Transportation Authority, or the U.S. Virgin
Islands Department of Public Works.

28

TRANSPORTATION TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER CENTER