By Brian Buckner
Don’t you hear that train a comin’, a comin’ round the bend…”
Wait, wait, wait! That’s putting the caboose in front of the engine a bit now, isn’t it?! Maybe not. Regardless of your position on Cuenca’s Tranvía de los Cuatro Rios and its workforce, it is “a comin’!”
The topic of the tranvía construction and adherence to completion schedules has been a hot one during the entire process. Many business owners along the route have endured economic suffering as a result of more limited access to their businesses. Some have closed up shop for good when the long spell of impacted profitability finally proved too much for the “wait it out” approach. Shuttering their shops for good, some business owners elected to move on to greener pastures whether they be similar businesses in other locations or perhaps their entrepreneurial thinking gave birth to new ventures.
There’s really good news though. Many shops that closed have been taken over by other folks who believe that they have the magic formula for success folded neatly in their back pocket. They just might too! There is hustling and bustling with folks working hard to make a place for themselves in the local economy. Saws whine and drills whir as old spaces are dressed for new purposes. Many new places have already opened; I see them as I traverse the streets leading to my various destinations. Soon, a long section of blocks on the east end of Gran Colombia will be complete. This area will offer shoppers a “mall like” walking area where they may stroll leisurely while searching the store fronts for potential purchases.
And, the reason that everyone is getting ready is that the tranvía is getting ready too. Check out my photograph and you will count 21 tranvía workers, ten pedestrians and two police officers in view. This is a busy worksite because businesses are open, people are shopping, police are policing and the workers are hard at it. Shop owners can see the progress in what in my humble opinion will be one of the most upscale and cool transportation systems in the world! No one wants to miss business that will come from renewed or even better access to their shops, old and new.
Come on down to El Centro and have a stroll along Gran Colombia so you can take in the progress that I am seeing. From Presidente Borrero to the east, almost all the street work is complete. Heading west, the workers are moving quickly. Pavers are being laid and grouted providing great access for pedestrian traffic. At night, concrete is poured a few blocks further west as street lights cast an unearthly, yellow glow on their surroundings. Iglesia Santo Domingo towers above all, seemingly delivering it’s blessings to the project. It’s an erie yet beautiful scene. The high pressure sodium lights gift you a view of old and new Cuenca caught unabashedly in their evening embrace.
I hear progress swinging a hammer in the background.