Construction of Cuenca’s new planetarium on the south side of Parque de la Madre should be complete by early October but officials have not set an opening date for the facility.
The planetarium, designed in the shape of the planet Saturn, complete with the ring, will have a capacity of 100. City officials say it will be the biggest and best in Ecuador, and hope it will beocme a tourist attraction as well as a field trip destination for school children.
According to Cuenca public works official Maurio Ochoa, the $1.3 million project will have the newest, most sophisticated projection and presentation equipment available. The 360-degree projections will be in 3D, with a top of the line sound system. “Until you experience it, it is impossible to describe the experience of a show in the planetarium. It will be amazing.”
Ochoa says construction is on schedule.
Av. Solano project tackles redondel cobblestones
Sidewalk and roadway reconstruction on Av. Solano, from Av. Doce de Abril to Tres Puentes, is causing major disruptions for drivers and pedestrians but city transportation officials say everyone will benefit from the final product.
In the next stage of the project, the redondel at Solano and Av. Remigio Crespo will be closed for two months as cobblestones are removed and replaced with asphalt. Xavier Cardenas of the mayor’s office said the cobblestones seemed like a good idea when they were installed 18 years ago but have turned out to be more trouble than they are worth. “They are appropriate in the historic district but make for a very rough driving surface for a major thoroughfare.” Cardenas says that 5,500 vehicles use the redondel very day.
In addition to the road and sidewalk work, the Solano project also includes reburbishing of the statues on the road’s grassy median. Care of the monuments to Remigio Crespo, Benigno Malo, Andrew F. Cordova, Rafael M. Arízaga, Fray Vicente Solano and Antonio Borrero, among others, have been neglected, says Cardenas, and require the attention of restoration experts.
Drivers complain about pedestrians
Cuenca taxi and bus drivers are complaining that laws governing pedestrians are not being enforced.
Taxi driver Gonzalo Diaz, says that one of his biggest daily challenges is dodging pedestrians. “There is very little respect for the law by pedestrians. They cross the street wherever the want and don’t pay attention to traffic signals. I feel lucky that I haven’t killed anyone.”
Diaz and other drivers say that enforcement of driving laws have become stricter with the addition of the new traffic police, but nothing is done about law-breaking walkers. “All we’re looking for is a little equal justice.”
A comprehensive national traffic law that went into effect in 2011 prescribed fines for pedestrians who don’t observe street crossing rules and who endager themselves and drivers. Several pedestrians were ticketed in Cuenca shortly after the law became effective but there has been little enforcement since, say officials.
According to the law, pedestrians can be fined up to $90 for jaywalking and, in extreme cases of endangering public safety, can go to jail.
Photo caption. Planetarium under construction in Parque de la Madre