Six blocks of reconstruction for Barrio Chino snarls traffic

A.M. Costa Rica/Shahrazad Encinias Vela This is the former main drag that is being converted into a Barrio Chino

Don’t get the local taxi drivers started on Barrio Chino. They have had about enough road reconstruction.

The latest impediment to rapid travel is on the Paseo de los Estudiantes, otherwise known as Calle 9. This was a main street one-way south, the principal exit to the south from the downtown. Now it is closed and torn up.

Earlier motorists had to face several detours as parts of Avenida 8 were reconstructed. More recently Avenida 3 westward from the downtown main Correos de Costa Rica was closed for reconstruction. All of these projects resulted in massive delays particularly at peak hours.

The six block Barrio Chino is conceived as a tourist attraction for visitors who seek a Chinese experience in Costa Rica. The government of the People’s Republic is putting up money and Chinese-looking street lamps are being shipped in.

The benefits of the $1.2 million project are lost on some taxi
drivers who see the effort as a way for Mayor Johnny Araya to ingratiate himself with the Chinese. Araya is a potential presidential candidate.

Some residents of the area are not happy, either. They protested at the dedication when the first sections of the street were pulled up.

The project is creating traffic upheaval from all sides because the route was a key one.

Students at the nearby Liceo de Costa Rica also are unhappy. They protested last month at the legislature. Araya met with representatives Monday. The students insisted that the name Paseo de los Estudiantes be maintained.

The meeting generated a false report that Araya was going to move the Chinese street a block to the east. Municipal officials discounted that possibility Tuesday.

The Liceo is celebrating its 125th year and the students from which the street is named are its alumni.

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