Neighbors stop tram construction in El Centro, demand more information
Residents of an historic district neighborhood prevented workers for the city’s new light rail system from erecting fences in preparation for construction Tuesday morning. The residents claim that they have not been adequately informed about plans and the effect they will have on their homes.
The protest was in the westside Convencion del 45 barrio, near the intersection of Mariscal La Mar and Abraham Sarmiento. Workers were erecting plastic fencing on La Mar when the residents intervened, demanding that it be removed.
Bario president Ramiro Lituma said that he was not necessarily against construction of the tram but said he had received little information about the project.
His protest echoes the complaint of in-coming Cuenca Mayor Marcelo Cabrera, who said routes were chosen without adequate participation of homeowners and businesses who will be effect. Cabrera said earlier this week he is considering changes to the route chosen during the administration of current mayor Paúl Granda.
Patricia Cordero, project manager for the tram, known officially as Tranvia de los Cuatro Rios, disagrees with Lituma and Cabrera, saying that residents were invited to meeting with tram officials three months ago.
Lituma also said he was concerned about the affect of traffic diversion in his area once work begins and said work should be delayed until Cabrera is office.
Boris Palacios, director of the city’s traffic authority, acknowledged that tram construction will cause traffic problems due to lane closures but said this is why the work should begin early on La Mar. “By beginning the work early, we can minimize the traffic impact.”
Cordero and her staff planned to meet today with residents in hopes of resolving the conflict.
Photo captions: Cuenca’s Convencion del 45 neighborhood