Wondering what Cuenca’s new tram system will eventually look like? You can get a glimpse of the future on Av. Las Americas southwest.
While much of the tram route is a muddy traffic-snarling construction zone, workers are laying sod and planting trees on one portion of the route, on Av. Las Americas, north of the intersection with the Azogues autopista. Although the finished route runs for only 230 meters, it is extending northward by the day.
A dozen workers have been assigned to final route preparation, completing the drainage system and landscaping.
According to Gerard Fernandez, tram project director for the city of Cuenca, work on the $230 million light rail system, or Travía de los Cuatro Rios, continues in seven work zones. He says that overall, almost 30% of project work is complete.
“It is good to see the first completed section of the route,” Fernandez says. “We look forward to seeing much more of it as we continue to work.”
Fernandez says that the most sensitive phase of construction is well underway in the historic district. “Here, we under pressure to preserve and protect our heritage but also complete work as quickly as possible due to the inconvenience to businesses and residents,” he says. Construction in the district requires additional vibration-absorbing structures under the tracks as well as measures to avoid damage to adjacent buildings.
Two archeologists are assigned to the work site in the district, cataloging artifacts unearthed during excavation. “This area has been inhabited for thousands of years and we have to take special care to save prehistoric artifacts,” Fernandez says.
Tram construction is seven months behind schedule due to planning problems, Fernandez says. The city is making up some of the lost time by hiring additional workers and extending the work day to 16 hours. Currently, 290 workers are assigned to the project.
When it’s completed in mid-2016, the tram will run a 21-kilometer route from the southwest part of the city, through the historic district, to the industrial park in the northeast. All rolling stock, currently being assembled in France, will be delivered to Cuenca by July 2016.
Construction is being overseen by project managers from Altsom, the French transportation and tech company that is building the equipment.