A sense of ease and tranquility has come to Tijuana’s chaotic Calle Segunda this week. The transformation of one of the city’s main east-west thoroughfares was evident today as bicyclists and pedestrians slowly wandered along between Avenidas. 5 de Mayo and Mutualismo.
Tijuana’s Secretary of Urban Development announced on February 24 that work would begin on the rehabilitation of Calle Segunda (also called Benito Juarez). After pounding rains slowed the construction in late February and political controversy and scandal threatened to delay the project even further, this week, construction moved forward.The pavement has been completely torn up and removed, and the street closed for five or six blocks from Av. Arias Bernal on the west up to Av. Miguel F. Martinez on the east.
Not everyone is as excited about the quiet streets. Miguel Vazquez, one of three employees who run Burbuja, a laundromat between Mutualismo and 5 de Mayo, worries that customers may give up and go somewhere else rather than struggle to figure out how to get through closed streets and rush hour traffic jams. “The city says it will be finished in two or three months of construction, but who knows…” Vazquez laments.
The cooks at Tacos El Rey across the street worry that business will die out as construction drags on for months. Neither had ever seen a construction project that shut down the streets completely. “Usually they work on one side of the street, but leave the other side open for traffic flow.”A makeshift parking lot has sprung up between Segunda and Tercera on 5 de Mayo, and Vazquez assured me that at least for now from drivers can turn north on Av. Gonzalez Ortega from either Tercera or Cuarta, and then take a right and drive right onto the bumpy dirt surface of Calle Segunda to enter the parking lot of Burbuja.
Meanwhile, as drivers scramble for alternative routes home, pedestrians and bicyclists may enjoy a few months of privileged access to a street of their own.