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Decision to reopen Calle Padre Aguirre to traffic in El Centro draws mixed reactions

Cuenca’s transportation office has reopened Padre Aguirre to vehicular traffic between Calles President Córdova and Sucre. The street, which runs besides San Francisco Plaza and the flower market, had served as a pedestrian-only mall for more than a year. Officials said the street would remain open to traffic until December 31 when a a decision will be made to make the change permanent or return the street to pedestrian status.

Calle Padre Aguirre at the intersection with Mariscal Sucre.

“We made the decision based on the need to stimulate business in the historic district and reduce pressure on other El Centro streets,” the Mobility Management Directorate said in a prepared statement. “This will not be a major thoroughfare and we expect the street to be a space shared by pedestrians and drivers.”

Several business owners in the area objected to the change, saying the city should be creating more pedestrian-only streets, not eliminating them. “Because of San Francisco Plaza and the flower market, this block is becoming popular with tourists and we should be working to attract more of them,” said Marco Quito, whose apartment fronts the street. “Many cities are improving conditions for pedestrians in their historic areas and Cuenca should be too.”

Many of the merchants at the flower market and on San Francisco Plaza applauded the opening. “We have suffered for years through construction and lately the protests and we need help to bring more traffic into Centro,” said clothing vendor Alfonso Castro. “The cars are moving slowly so people will still be able to walk on the street.

Flower merchant Dolores Reyes said she had mixed emotions about the change. “I don’t think it will make much difference since there won’t be much traffic. People liked being able to walk down to the plaza and I think they will still be able to do it.”

City Councilman Cristian Zamora, a member of the traffic commission, called the decision a mistake and questioned the action of officials in yielding to demands from merchants. “This is a clear reversal of the urban plan that we have developed for the city,” he said.  “We just spent a million dollars for a transportation plan that recommended that we pedestrianize more areas of El Centro. Am I missing the logic of this decision?”

A transportation office spokeswoman responded that the status of many El Centro streets will be reevaluated before the tram begins operation.

9 thoughts on “Decision to reopen Calle Padre Aguirre to traffic in El Centro draws mixed reactions

  1. We live on Padre Aguirre at the Plaza de las Flores and are so disappointed that they opened the street to traffic! It was such a nice walking street – kids playing in the Plaza San Francisco could run and play, tourists could wander, it was a plus for the historical area.

  2. And then where will the cars park so drivers can jump out to buy flowers or clothing at the plaza. Not a very good idea, and putting pedestrians at risk.

  3. another stupid decision from the city, how about less traffic (auto) in the city and get the tram running, oh yeah, the tram is coming , some year

  4. Going backwards! Bad decision, when most cities all over the world are trying to encourage pedestrians. People make the cities come alive. Cars do not.

  5. Not to shift gears here, but I’m always surprised when cars cross the bridge leading from the historic center to Parque de la Madre. It seems like a pedestrian-only bridge, most of the time.

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