Construction work on Cuenca’s new tram system is expanding in the historic district, moving west on Gran Colombia and opening a new front on Gaspar Sangurima.
Project director Gerard Fernandez says that track has been laid on six of the system’s 20 kilometers. and says testing is beginning on the first cars arriving in Cuenca from the port in Guayaquil. “We are making good progress in our project areas,” he said. “There will be disruptions for traffic and businesses as we enter new phases of work and we will do our best to keep these to a minimum,” he said.
Outside of the historic district, Fermandez says that work expanding to the stretch of Av. Las Americas between and Av. Ordonez Lasso and Camino del Tejar.
As work continues in the historic district, property owners and businesses are complaining about a lack of information about construction progress. Business owners say they have lost customers due to the traffic restrictions and access difficulty.
The owner of a stationary store on Sangurima complains that he was notified that work was beginning outside his business but was given no details about when construction would be complete. “I need to know this so I can plan for the disruption,” said Ramiro Apulia. “The work will take a big toll on my business and we deserve all the information we can get.”
Among the businesses affected are some of Cuenca’s largest hotels, located on Gran Colombia. Hotel managers say that parking areas they depend on for drop-offs of guests are being closed.
Meanwhile, testing will begin within days on tram cars arriving from Guayaquil, Fernandez says. The testing will be done by technicians from Alstom, the French company manufacturing the rolling stock and managing construction. Several tram cars have already arrived and more are en route from the port at La Rochelle, France, headed for Guayaquil.
The first tests will make sure the cars have not been damaged during transport from France, Alstom officials said. After that, tests will begin on sections of completed track on Av. Las Americas to determine that operational systems are in working order.