What The Heck Is Going On In San Jose?

It’s called progress, Bunkie

Major construction has been underway in the downtown area of San Jose since December. It seemed as though they would never finish until a small recent spurt of progress was detected. For many weeks, traffic had been funneled to one side of the street causing chaos when trying to navigate to and from the plaza at the end of the street.

To make matters worse, all construction ceased from Christmas to New Year’s and the lane leading to the plaza remained closed. All incoming and outgoing traffic was directed to one side of the road, while the other was being worked on. This caused significant delays when going anywhere near the plaza as well as much uncertainty due to lousy signage. Just tell us where you want us to go. Would a couple more signs break the city’s treasury?

This mess is significant as the bridge that leads to the entire community of Puerto Los Cabos is involved in the construction zone. This is one of the busiest intersections in San Jose.

But, the week of February 12, the main downtown street opened, although still under construction and down to only one lane, lined by cones on either side.

Spokesman for the city of San Jose shrugged it off, saying they are not in charge of the project, it’s Fonatur’s baby.  Fonatur, the federal agency that can’t shoot straight, is in charge of this street because Fonatur installed the infrastructure to get tourism going in Los Cabos. They still have some responsibilities for some of those facilities. Like the sewage plant and the pipes leading to it.

 Raoul Chollet, project manager for Fonatur, told us all the downtown construction is for the benefit of local tourism. They are going to be replacing all existing sidewalks, curbs, and pavement in an attempt to make the area near the main plaza, Plaza Mijares, prettier.

 This is a major project that stretches seven blocks, three down the main drag, then the mayhem turns up Manuel Doblado, (the up street), and continues for another four blocks. Both sides of the street are going to be screwed with, but thankfully, one side at a time.

They will be burying all utilities underground, nestled in tubes, to rid us of unsightly overhead cables. Second, all sidewalks are going to be rebuilt in a smother, less stumble-prone manner, not haphazard with holes, narrow steps, then wide steps, all with chunks of concrete missing, and let’s not forget the pot holes in the sidewalks. 

Sidewalks around the plaza, as well as some of the planters, will be streamlined for easy pedestrian strolling. Fonatur is also going to add more plants and shade trees.

The goal is to replicate the work that was done a few years ago in the historic art district of San Jose, just three blocks from where this construction is taking place. At the end of the project, the seven block stretch should look similar to the historic art district, blending in beautifully. But with better quality, maybe avoiding the broken pipes that lead to the sinkholes. The water pipes were installed so badly, with not enough support under them, that they started breaking within months. The bed they are placed on was not properly prepared, and some fittings were not used appropriately. We’re just sure that won’t happen again. Nope.

The beautification project will not mitigate all the traffic in the area. The problem is the darned City Hall that stands in front of the plaza. That’s the old building with the clock tower. The employees get there at 8am and take all the downtown parking. By the time the retail and restaurant clients arrive, there is no parking for them. There is talk of locating all the city offices that are now scattered around town into one new big new office building but so far, it’s just talk. And, although that concrete plaza seems like an ugly waste of space, it is necessary, even well loved,  because the Mexicans have so many events there. So many that grass would be trampled to death.

Fonatur will be working block by block and only closing one side of the up street at a time, so you can always travel, it will just be a slower journey.

Now for the worse news:  As of February 17, all work has ceased because Fonatur didn’t like the materials that were sent. That problem is a standoff that has no definite end. According to Fonatur honcho Raoul Chollet, there is no scheduled date of completion. They own the project permit for the entire year of 2017 and it sounds like they are going to use every bit of that time. All we can hope is that this mayhem is going to be worth it.