Wearing a suit as he symbolically ground a sledgehammer into a sidewalk in downtown San José, Mayor Johnny Araya Monday inaugurated a project to rip up crumbling sidewalks and replace them with new brick-like squares of concrete.
This ¢124 million ($240,310) project is part of San José Posible (San José Possible) a municipality initiative to turn the city around by making it more attractive and pedestrian-friendly.
Sidewalks are being replaced in a 6,000 square meter area, running east to west from Calle 7 to Calle 1 and north to south from Ave. 1 to Ave. 4, explained San JoséMunicipality spokeswoman Teo Dinarte.
The pieces of concrete workers will lay in this area are the same as those pedestrians now trod along Ave. 4 on a blocked-off stretch spanning west from La Soledad Church to the area behind Banco Popular.
“This is an important effort to renovate the center of the city,” Mayor Araya told The Tico Times, adding that wheelchair ramps will be added to the new sidewalks to comply with a law mandating them in public places.
As part of San José Possible, the municipality is also working with the Public Security Ministry to put more police on the streets to make the city safer for pedestrians taking advantage of these new walker friendly sidewalks, he said.
The sidewalk project is expected to be completed in December. Next year, the municipality hopes to revamp another 5,200 square meter stretch and also expand the Ave. 4 walking boulevard farther west to the Diario Extra office.
Regarding the new Ave. 4 pedestrian boulevard, San José resident Alberto Salas said he appreciates the improved walking conditions but isn’t so pleased with the traffic gridlock created by blocking off this main thoroughfare.
“It’s a project to beautify this area and it’s nice aesthetically, but in terms of traffic flow, it’s not such a good thing,” he said.