In an effort to “tell it like it is” Romeo Moncayo, Cuenca’s new tram project director, told a group of business owners last week that expanded construction will cause temporary chaos in the historic district. He added: “The good news is that it will help us finish the work sooner.”
Moncayo announced an expansion of the work area on Calles Mariscal Lamar and Gran Colombia, including the closing of more intersections. “In the near term, this will mean major discomfort for businesses and residents. We are sorry for this but it is necessary.”
The work expansion will mean changes to at least 11 bus routes, including Lines 8, 10, 12, 18, 19, 20, 24, 25, 26, 27 and 28. “We ask that transit passengers using these lines check for changes due to construction,” Moncayo said. “As we are telling businesses, we will work as quickly as possible so we can return to normalcy.” He added that all work in Centro should be completed by September 25.
Municipal Transit director Fernando Salazar said he is assigning additional traffic police to El Centro to control what he admits will be a “very difficult traffic situation.” He asked that owners of private vehicles avoid the historic district if possible, suggesting that they park outside of it and walk in.
Salazar said there are 2,500 public parking spaces available at Parque de la Madre, Otorongo Plaza, Civic Plaza and at other facilities. “My advice is that drivers use this parking,” he said. “They will save a great deal of time if they do.”
For drivers who cannot avoid driving in the historic district, Salazar recommends that they use Calle Miguel Heredia, Miguel Velez, Calle Larga, Juan Jaramillo, Pío Bravo, Rafael Maria Arízaga, and Av. Huayna Capac, due to lower traffic loads.
Business owners seemed resigned to more disruption. “I don’t see how this can get any worse,” said Carlos Astros, a clothing store owner. “We have lived with this for two years and just want it to be over. Many businesses have failed and the rest of us have suffered terribly. We don’t know what to believe.”
Some owners and residents complained that they were not informed of changes made last week, especially the closing of intersections. The city maintains, however, that it sent out notice to all property owners.