Employees of the French project management consortium ACTN showed up for work at several locations on Cuenca’s tram route Monday morning. For residents in those areas, it was a welcome sight.
“Glory be to God,” said Manuel Cárdenas, a store owner on Av. Las Americas on the west side of Cuenca. “This is truly an historic day and one we have waited for for many months,” he added. It’s been a little over 14 months, to be exact, when workers of the Spanish project manager Consorcio Cuatro Ríos de Cuenca (CCRC) walked off the job in a contract dispute with the city. Although city of Cuenca work crews continued work in several locations in the historic district, all other activity on the project stopped.
ACTN director Mónica Quezada said her company is happy to be on the job and is committed to finishing construction within the 300 days prescribed in the contract. “The work will be completed next year and the people of Cuenca will finally have the train system they have been waiting for,” she said.
Quezada explained that her work crews are concentrating on specific areas between the tram train yard on Av. Mexico at Unidad Nacional and the east side of the historic district. “Our first objective is to complete several unfinished links on this portion of the route so trains can run unimpeded from the patio, down Las Americas and through the historic district. We hope to begin full tests on this section of the system early next year.”
One point of concentration, she says, is the bridge over the Tomebamba on Av. Las Americas. Weight load tests will be conducted on the bridge next week to determine if the bridge requires structural reinforcement. Another focus, says Quezada, are unfinished links in front of the Feria Libre market.
Other early priorities are at Civic Plaza, the Av. Las Americas Yanuncay bridge, the Rio Milchichig bridge, the construction of passenger platforms, and the installation of signage.
City tram coordinator Santiago López says he is talking to business owners along the tram route and said the city would work with them in monitoring construction progress. “We fully agree that the citizens should be allowed to check construction and we will provide them the information they need to do this,” he said.
He added that several meetings with property owners and business owners are being organized to explain project priorities.