Spanish consultants have provided a glimpse of what a mostly vehicle-free historic district would look like.
The images and descriptions delivered Friday by the Andalusian planners call for the creation of a network of public pedestrian areas, renovation of several parks, the elimination of street curbs and commercial revitalization.
The director of the historic district project, Jose Luis Cañavate, calls the plan a vision for the future that emphasizes people, not cars. “This is a road map that draws on the beauty of the city’s history,” he says. “By following it, we are walking toward a future that will be shared by all Cuencanos, as well as visitors to the city.”
The plan, which the city says will be implemented over a 10-year period, proposes major changes to Parque Calderon and the Centenary bridge, area near the Rio Tomebamba, the elimination of traffic on parts of Simon Bolivar, Sucre, Benigno Malo, and Presidente Borrero. Cañavate says he envisions a city center with sidewalk cafes, crafts markets, more public seating areas, and green spaces.
The plan recommends turning some commercial parking lots into small parks surrounded by shops.
In addition to eliminating curbs and other pedestrian barriers, it would relocate the fountain and gazebo in Parque Calderon to create an open public space fronting the provincial government center on Simon Bolivar. The area at the south end of Benigno Malo would be reconstructed with the addition of an elevator or escalator to take pedestrians to the bridge. According to Cañavate, handicapped accessibility is a major feature of the plans.
Cañavate says the plan does not eliminate vehicles entirely, since there will be some traffic from home and business owners. Instead, he said, the design will limit accessibility to motor vehicles. “The idea will be to encourage movement by foot and bicycle in the center, to make it a safe place for pedestrians.”
According to city transportation officials, the new tram system, along with construction of parking facilities outside the historic district, will eliminate much of the need for access to El Centro by cars.