A year-and-a-half away from completing a light rail system, the largest public transportation project in Cuenca history, Mayor Marcelo Cabrera is pushing a new one that will be twice as expensive.
On Thursday, Cabrera showed off the final design for a 50-kilometer freeway bypass of the city. The massive project, estimated to cost more than a half bil
lion dollars, would be a six-lane, limited access highway, beginning in Guangarcucho and ending in Tarqui. Project plans call for 11 bridges, two of which would be the largest in southern Ecuador.
The road will connect with the Pan American highway to the north and south of the city and would go through the communities Llacao, Checa, Chiquintad, Ricaurte, Sayausí and Baños
Cabrera had proposed the freeway during his first term as mayor in 2007, but the plan was shelved when he was defeated in 2008 by Paúl Granda, who championed the tram project, Tranvía de los Cuatros Rios. Cabrera returned to the mayor’s office early this year after defeating Granda and resurrected the freeway idea.
At yesterday’s meeting, Cabrera said that the freeway is a logical compliment to the tram. “This will give us an inner- and outer-city transportation solution,” he said.
Cabrera says the price of the freeway, officially estimated at $518 million, poses major hurdles and proposes that some of the costs would be paid by tolls. He is pursuing several financing arrangements with private banks and says he expects help from the federal government.
According Edmund Cueva, Cabrera’s financial advisor, $100 million will be required to expropriate the land necessary for freeway construction.
The mayor says that the freeway is needed to reduce traffic in central Cuenca, and estimates that it will divert between 16,000 to 20,000 vehicle trips a day.