Examples of a revitalized El Centro are already on permanent display
While Cuencanos had a fleeting look at the future of the city’s historic district last Friday, two examples have been in place for four years.
A week ago, city planners and university architecture students, took over a lane of President Borrero between Simon Bolivar and Mariscal Sucre, laying down sod, installing potted shrubbery, benches and bicycle parking, to give passersby an idea of what the historic district will look like following a planned make-over. The new look follows a European concept of public spaces that emphasize pedestrians and bicycles over motorized vehicles.
But according to Gerard Fernandez, coordinator of the tram project, two blocks of the new look are already in operation. One is on Gran Colombia, between Padre Aguirre and Tomas Ordoñez, while the other is on Borrero adjacent to Plaza La Merced, between Vasquez and Calle Larga.
Both blocks contain no curbs and have metal and concrete posts to mark the roadway for cars. Both also have plantings and adjacent seating areas. Speed is limited to 10 kilometers per hour for cars.
“Both blocks were redesigned in 2010 with consideration of the overall strategy to shift from a motor vehicle-oriented area to one that emphasizes people and bicycles,” said Fernandez. “They are also designed to enhance the desirability of the neighborhoods as residential areas.”
The Gran Colombia block will be part of the tram route, Fernandez said, and will have no cars at all when the train passes through.