Christmas will be a merry one if the firm reconstructing Avenida 3 in the heart of the downtown finishes on time.
Until then, the ripple from the section of closed road reverberates all over the city.
Avenida 3 is a main drag for motorists headed west. But not these days. Workmen have ripped up the street for a two-block stretch just west of the Banco Nacional headquarters and the Correos de Costa Rica main installation. This is the area populated by hardware stores and even the Mercado Borbón famous for its vegetables.
The crews have jacked out the entire roadway and left sidewalks dangling uncomfortably on either side. Some stores have closed to wait out the siege.
The project is much more than just resurfacing a city street. The contract calls for CEMEX and its subcontractors to replace water, sewer and storm sewers as well as the sidewalks.
The work started July 11, and downtown traffic immediately showed the results. At peak hours traffic many blocks away is slowed to a crawl. Now traffic officers are on key corners blocks away from the construction to keep vehicles moving.
An uninformed motorist will run into barricades at Calle 6 and be forced to make a left turn. That street is heavily traveled, too. So the jam is continuous most of the day and into the peak traffic hour. The situation is so bad that some taxi drivers will not venture into the area and drop their fares several blocks away. Some complain that the contractor should have instituted around the clock shifts to speed up the work.
The job comes on the heels of reconstructing Avenida 8 that was another nightmare of traffic jams, detours and unhappy motorists.
But for every inconvenience, there may be a bright side. Some of the merchants along the torn up blocks said they were enjoying the peace and quiet of the absence of vehicles. Eventually the avenue will get a new roadbed of long-lasting concrete.