Another block opens in El Centro as tram work progresses; City sets next October as the new completion deadline

Dec 17, 2016 | 20 comments

Signage and curb markers are being installed on Calle Gran Colombia between Tarqui and Padre Aguirre, ahead of next week’s opening to vehicular traffic next week.

More Gran Colombia barricades will come down next week.

“We are seeing real progress in the historic district,” says Guillermo Argudo, Cuenca’s tranvía project coordinator. He added that construction crews were facing a new problem with recent rains. “We are experiencing delays in some areas from water accumulation, which is something we have seen lately. It especially affects electrical work. Of course, we are happy to see the rain.”

Earlier in the week, Argudo said the city has set a new deadline of October 2017 for completion of the project. He concedes, however, that meeting it depends on resolving a contract dispute with Four Rivers Consortium of Cuenca (CCRC), the Spanish company contracted to manage construction. “This makes it impossible to commit to a date when the trains will be operational to the public since we will need about three months to test the system once all work is completed.”

On Thursday, Mayor Marcelo Cabrera ordered a second 60-day emergency period, allowing the city to continue to perform CCRC’s project management functions. The mayor said work would extend outside of the historic district over the next two months.

According to Argudo, the city is prepared to assume all of CCRC management responsibilities if negotiations do not reach a resolution. “This would involve hiring technical and engineering talent,” he said, adding that the city is in touch with the tram’s French manufacturer which stands ready to provide assistance if necessary.

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Argudo announced last week that the project would not meet the May completion deadline, which had been established in February. It was the third deadline since the project began in 2012,

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