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Cuenca tram may not be on schedule after all: Consortium wants to extend deadline

After months of insisting that construction of Cuenca’s tram system was on schedule to be completed October 13, the French consortium hired to complete the project is asking for an additional 41 days.

The tram during tests in El Centro

ACTN Tranvia Cuenca, which includes the company that manufactured the tram tracks, rolling stock and electronic systems has officially notified Cuenca Mayor Marcelo Cabrera that it wants to arbitrate for an extension.

ACTN claims that its inability to meet the October 13 deadline stems from a right-of-way dispute that has prevented it from constructing a retaining wall adjacent to the train tracks in the Milchichig barrio. A property owner has refused to sell property needed for the wall and a court date to resolve the dispute has yet to be set.

An official with ACTN said that the location of the retaining wall on a steep slope is necessary for protecting the railway. Cabrera says the consortium can “work around” the problem and still meet its deadline. On Friday, is said the wall could be moved “a few centimeters” toward the tracks without compromising project integrity.

“The contractor has assured me repeatedly the project would be completed on time in October and I still expect them to meet that deadline,” he said.

In its request for arbitration, allowed under terms of the contract, ACTN says the property dispute is the responsibility of the city and out of its control. It said it expected the issue to be resolved in time for it to meet the schedule.

City officials and ACTN were in meetings Tuesday afternoon and neither side would talk to reporters. A city employee who asked not to be identified said that progress was being made.

The municipality awarded the contract to complete tram construction to ACTN on December 5, 2017 for $48.1 million. The contract stipulated that work would be completed within 300 days.