If you think the tram construction mess is bad now, you haven’t seen nothin’ yet.
On Tuesday, city officials said that work on Cuenca’s new light rail system will be completed on schedule, in July of next year. To achieve this, construction will intensify, affecting businesses, vehicular and pedestrian traffic along the route.
According to tram project director Romeo Moncayo, more workers will be added and work hours will be extended to meet the deadline. “The delivery date of July 2016 will not be extended and we are taking all the measures necessary to meet this target,” he said.
Following completion, the system will undergo three months of testing and open to the public in October.
Moncayo and other members of the tram project team are meeting with Mayor Marcelo Cabrera and transportation officials to discuss the impact of an accelerated schedule on traffic and businesses along the construction route.
“There will be major disruptions, there is no way to avoid it,” Moncayo said. “The good news is that the work will be completed in a year and the citizens of Cuenca will be able to take advantage of this marvelous means of transportation.”
Project engineers face major challenges on bridges and redondeles along the route. The Av. Las Americas bridge across the Yanuncay River is the biggest challenge, according to Moncayo, since water and sewer lines, as well as electric cables, must be relocated to new construction.
Other bridges across the Tomebamba and Milchichig Rivers will also undergo major reinforcement work to handle the weight of both the tram and traffic. The city says it may need to condemn privately owned property adjacent to the bridges to do the work.
Redondeles at the Feria Libre market on Av. Las Americas and near the entrance to the airport on Av. España will also require special attention. The city said that the fountain on the Av. España redondele will be removed to make way for tram tracks.
Meanwhile, the city is dealing with a rising tide of complaints from business owners in construction areas, particularly in the historic district and on Av. España. ”Unfortunately, this is part of the process,” says Moncayo. “I understand that it is painful but we will be finished in less than a year and the mess will be gone.”