The Cuenca transportation office is speeding up construction work for the new light rail system, Tranvia de los Cuatro Rios, despite protests of its route through the historic district. In addition to Avs. España and Las Americas, the speed-up includes more work hours on Calles Gran Colombia and La Mar in El Centro.
Although the city is awaiting comments from a UNESCO technical team that visited Cuenca two weeks ago, the transportation office said that the project is behind schedule and that work “must be intensified in all areas.” The UNESCO team comments may address the affect of tram construction and operation on historic buildings.
Business and homeowners on Gran Colombia and La Mar are protesting the route through the historic district, demanding that the entire projects be stopped. Cuenca Mayor Marcelo Cabrera has responded that the time to complain was two years ago when project plans were first announced and that major changes to the route cannot be made now.
The city says that a new night shift will be added to put construction back on schedule. More than 300 workers are currently employed on the project.
Stronger city noise ordinance is in the works
A tougher noise control ordinance appears to have the support to pass the Cuenca city council. The changes strengthen penalties for violators and lower allowable decibel levels for different areas of the city.
Acceptable proposed noise levels were determined in a study by the University of Azuay environmental sciences department.
Councilman Marco Avila claims current standards are too lax and are rarely enforced. “We need to be consistent in what noise is allowed and in the enforcement of violations,” he says. One provision of the change is to provide decible meters to law enforcement officers.
Avila’s proposal will strengthen penalties, which would range to 150% of the basic salary.
Acceptable noise levels in the amendment are: hospital zones, 45 decible (dB); residential neighborhoods, 50 dB; mixed residential and business neighborhoods, 55 dB; commercial zones 60 dB; mixed commercial and industrial zones, 65 dB; and industrial zones 70 dB. Acceptable levels would be reduced after 9 p.m. by 10 dB in all areas.
Drivers who use their horns excessively and those who use loudspeakers on the roofs of vehicles would also be liable for penalties under the proposed amendment.
Photo caption: Cuenca’s new tram, currently under construction.