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"Fast" in Panama

September Cinta Costera
Although the Red Devil and taxi drivers (when not stuck in a traffic jam) do their best to imitate a NASCA or Indy driver with respect to speed, little else in this country can be associated with the word "fast". The "mañana mindset" (nothing is really worth rushing) is Panama personified, especially with anything government related. (Remember our eight month visa saga.) So it's a real shocker when you see a government project moving along at a brisk pace and almost on schedule. That's happening with the Cinta Costera - the expansion of Avenida Balboa in Panama City. This project is BIG (behind only the Panama Canal expansion), complicated and the current administration wanted it done before they leave on July 1 - they almost made it happen.

I first mentioned this project about nine months ago (the first picture in this post) and the progress in that time is truly amazing. The pictures that follow will give you a little idea of what has taken place. It's also at a stage now where we can actually see what the completed project will look like. It won't solve Panama City's traffic problem and won't offer as much green space as some wanted - but it obviously will be a vast improvement over what was there.

Cinta Costera 2
This picture is looking east and was taken from the same general area as the first picture. On the left side of the the picture you see the six travel lanes of the exisiting Avenida Balboa - everything to the right of that was water, when we arrived in Panama. When the project is finished those six lanes will all be westbound and the large strip of concret in this picture will be the new eastbound lanes. What looks like a road near the water is actually a bike path and walkway. The gizmo in the center of the picture is a pedestrian bridge.

Cinta Costera 1
This picture is looking west - that's Casco Viejo jutting into the Bay of Panama. The Amador Causway and the Canal are just beyond Casco. The current Avenida Balboa is mostly hidden behind the trees and buildings in this picture. In the center are the new eastbound lanes. Not sure what the red-roofed pavilions will house. There are also a couple of good size plazas, lots of benches, basketball courts, soccer field and other miscellaneous stuff. It certainly will make our walk from Casco Viejo to the city more enjoyable.

Cinta Costera 4
This last picture shows the work still in progress as they work 24 hours a day trying to get it done by months end - don't think they will make it, but they sure gave it a good try.

Take care.

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