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Yucatan News – Tunnels and Tourism

News May 23, 2011

News Starting May 23, 2011

New Archaeological Discoveries in MeridaArqueological Zones in Merida

It is rather amusing that scientists, for generations, have stood in Merida and looked out to remote areas for archaeological finds, and almost no one thought to look down at their very feet. Over the course of just the past decade, as the Municipality of Merida moves forward with plans for increasingly modern infrastructure, all manner of new physical features have been discovered. Some are cenotes, right here in the heart of the city. Now, we find that 170 recorded Mayan sites lie within the bounds of the Municipality and must be protected from urban development. The site at Sitpach is one of the most important of these sites because everyday objects found there show that Merida was settled as long ago as 400 B.C., which is 600 years before experts traditionally believed. This means that, in 2012, instead of celebrating just the 470th Anniversary of the City of Merida, we can keep in mind that it is also the 2,412th Anniversary (or maybe more) of the Municipality of Merida.

New Tunnel to Go Under the Glorieta de la PazLuna Del Oriente furniture in Merida Yucatan

The Glorieta de la Paz (known to many of us as the Burger King Circle) is the point at which Paseo Montejo becomes Paseo Montejo Prolongación (Extension) and several times each day, it becomes one of the busiest intersections in Merida. To alleviate this congestion, the City of Merida is proposing a new tunnel under the circle that will allow traffic to pass, unhindered, through the intersection. Traffic on the Circuito Colonias will continue to flow through the circle. Some ask why a tunnel, instead of an overpass. We suspect that the reason is that an overpass would cause significant damage to the cultural environment that includes the Glorieta de la Paz and the much-admired fountain in the center of the circle. The newly landscaped Burger King Circle will have green spaces and will provide a space where many cultural events can take place. We have heard that the new tunnel will begin about where the restaurant La Tratto is located.

Of course, as with everything new in Merida, there is much controversy surrounding this project. Some say it is the best solution for a sticky problem. Others are saying that without enhancing traffic flow in other areas, this will make traffic even worse along the Prolongación. The project is reported to start at the end of June and be done four months later. Vamos a ver! (We’ll see!)

Placement of Artificial Reef Structures Resumes Along CoastYucatan Lots - beach lots at reasonable prices in the Yucatan Mexico

After the 250 concrete structures that were placed offshore from Celestun proved their worth, the rest of the coast of Yucatan is lined up and ready for their share. Work is beginning again and locations will include Progreso, Chicxulub Puerto, Rio Lagartos, San Felipe, and Cuyo. It is important to note that all of the environmentally friendly concrete structures are not the same. There are 7 different kinds, geared to the needs of the reproduction and raising of the young of different types of aquatic animals. As the fish congregate around the artificial reef structures, sport fishing and diving are expected to grow. Everyone is looking forward to this simple fix that has been so long in coming. Congratulations to the Secretary of Agriculture and Fisheries on a job well done and many thanks to the fishermen who will maintain these new structures. As divers, we are excited about the prospect of having great diving off the Yucatan Gulf Coast!

3 x 1: Traffic Lights in Motul

“Have a Good Trip. Come Back Soon” will be on one of the new signs leaving the City of Motul when this new 3 x 1 project is finished. For those who are not familiar with this concept, it works like this: Migrants pool the money they send home. It is then matched with funds from their municipality, their state, and the federal government. The result is enough money to fund some serious community service projects. This time, there will be many new traffic lights, stop signs, road signs and walkways throughout Motul. The 3 x 1 program is one of the best we have ever seen and we congratulate every migrant who has participated in it through the years. All of Yucatan has benefited, in one way or another, from their generosity.

2012: Now A Western Commercial Idea

For thousands of years, the Maya lived their lives, documenting the cycles of the seasons so they would be better able to meet the needs of their people in the coming years. They had no idea that, when the European priests arrived, they would put their own religious terminology on everything Mayan and, someday, the simple Mayan documented seasonal cycles would be used to sell tours and tee-shirts heralding the end of the world.
A new study by the Peninsular Unit of the Center for Research and Higher Studies in Social Anthropology (CIESAS) has found just that. The notion of the Mayan system of using codes and numerology to document and predict natural disasters, etc., translated into Mayan prophecies when viewed by the invading priests. By the time this is posted on the Internet, yet another End of the World date (March 21) will have come and gone. Since we are all still here, instead of coming to Yucatan to witness the end of the world on Dec. 21, 2012, we hope everyone will be in Yucatan to help the Maya and their friends celebrate a new beginning.

Medical Tourism Booming in MexicoStarmedica Health Care in Merida Yucatan Mexico

New numbers are out and Mexico is still growing as a favorite destination for medical tourists. Over the past four years, Mexico has built 1,000 new hospitals and dentists are busier than ever. We were especially pleased, this week, to hear that Star Medica is the fastest growing, world class, hospital chain in Mexico. You are more than welcome to visit the Star Medica Merida website to see just what all this world class hospital has to offer. You might also want to read one of our most recent articles, written by a local expatriate about her experiences with surgery at Merida’s Star Medica Hospital.

Quintana Roo Competes for Tianguis MexicoTianguis Touristico Mexico

Every year, Tianguis Mexico is held in Acapulco. It is the premier tourism industry meeting places in all of Mexico, where international buyers and Mexican exhibitors meet in one great tianguis (flea market) to showcase the tourism wares of the country and to form business relationships that will result in more tourists than ever visiting throughout the nation. Because of difficult security issues, Quintana Roo is suggesting that the 2012 Tianguis Mexico be held in Cancun, which can offer not only security, but 300 flights per day to and from such places as North, South, and Central America, Europe, Russia and the Middle East. We would love to see this event held in Quintana Roo and are keeping our fingers crossed that Quintana Roo will be successful in their bid to host the 2012 Tianguis Mexico. Visit the 2011 Tianguis Mexico website to see what this could mean to our peninsula.

Water Quality on the Peninsula

When we first read about the Caribbean Coastal Pollution Project, we kept reading until we learned that the good news was withheld until the end. As with all developed areas in the world, the Yucatan Peninsula is seeing an increase in everything from pharmaceuticals to pesticides in their water and, as of now, only approximately one-third of the peninsula has municipal wastewater treatment systems to deal with the problem. Since the population of the Yucatan Peninsula is expected to increase tenfold by 2030, this could be a significant problem – unless… and that’s where the rest of the story comes in.
Deeply appreciative of the findings of this study, and of the water and coastal management methods identified by the study, the National Water Commission (CONAGUA) of the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) responded with an official statement and plans of action to tackle this problem early and aggressively. While we expect to hear rumors of dire consequences for the future of water quality on the peninsula, we have also witnessed CONAGUA rising to meet every obstacle in their path, so we have faith that they will continue to improve the quality of water throughout the Yucatan Peninsula and far into the future.

Good News: Tourism and Violence in Mexico

In 2010, tourism was up by 6% in Mexico, with a total of 23 million foreign tourists choosing to visit throughout the nation. Only one of those 23 million visitors was the victim of a violent crime, one of the 6 million cruise ship passengers. We are happy to report that, while newspapers continue to report drug-related murders in Mexico, Yucatan still remains the only state in the nation that has had an unblemished record in this regard. This was recently reported in a short article about Merida in the Christian Science Monitor. The article quotes a report from the University of San Diego’s Transborder Institute, saying ” Last year the Yucatán (Mérida is the capital) was the only one of Mexico’s states not to have registered a single drug-related murder”. Everyone in Yucatan is very proud of our state and always welcoming to visitors, both national and international. We hope these numbers help others finally make the decision to just come and see all that the State of Yucatan has to offer.

Fast Train UpdateFast Train in Yucatan

The Government of the State of Yucatan presented the Tren Rápido Transpeninsular Project to la Secretaria de Comunicaciones y Transportes (SCT) at a workshop in early May. On May 9, the SCT agreed with the proposal of the local government that the project will result in the development of an axis for regional economies, and that the project is feasible from legal, technical and financial viewpoints. But – don’t start looking for tickets to the maiden ride just yet.

The project now has to be registered as a joint project between the Government of the State of Yucatan and the Federal Agency (SCT) with the Unidad de Inversión de la Secretaría de Hacienda y Crédito Público. If they free up enough funds to complete the project, work will begin some time after that. Even when the rails are down, it might be some time before ordinary passengers can ride because the train, at first, will only be for tourists between Merida and Chichen Itza. In Phase Two, cargo will be added and, only in Phase Three will the fast train become a passenger train.

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7 Responses to “Yucatan News – Tunnels and Tourism”

  1. The tunnel thing is so upsetting to me. Paseo Montejo has a unified, coherent appearance. The neighborhoods on both sides are connected and accessible. When massive roadway projects involving different levels — whether elevated or excavated — are introduced, communities are divided and human scale is reduced or eliminated.

    An assumption is being made that vehicle traffic will increase forever. Recent credit programs have led to an explosion of vehicles, but gasoline powered vehicles are not the future. 10, 20, 30 years from now, mass transit may be more efficient and less disruptive. Merida already has many rail routes that could be used for light rail to connect vital centers of activity. Circulation buses then could complete the transportation loop.

    Assuming that automobiles is the only future may be a mistake. We just wish Merida would look ahead 20-30 years and rethink projects like the proposed tunnel. It will create a divide across which access will not be possible and disrupt pedestrian travel.

    If an auto-based traffic solution must be determined immediately, it would be better to provide additional cross-town routes than trying to make Paseo Montejo the highest volume choice with the resulting impacts that will have. People do not play and relax beside or above high volume high speed traffic.

  2. I agree 100% with CasiYucateco, this auto-oriented solution is a terrible mistake. Unfortunately, Yucatecos (like myself) have always tried to emulate US cities, with their big highways and overpasses, and seen these as a sign of “modernidad”. What meridanos don’t realize is that our city needs a hybrid development model that takes into account the size of the city, the need to improve public transit and urban features that make Merida a beautiful city (big trees everywhere, gardens, houses, etc).

    50 years from now people will nod their heads at this tunnel, just like we lament today the number of beautiful houses and mansions that were destroyed on Paseo Montejo and other areas in the name of “la modernidad”.

  3. Underground bypasses arehorrible in countries that have dry, rocky beds under the surface and that are subject only to seasonable tormet rains. From Ciudad Juárez to Tapachula they share a common demoniator, they alwys flood.

    This Montejo project is like many other local uneeded infrastructure projects, that of quickly squandaring public works monies, particularly in the last year of a city or state administration.

    Miguel is absolutely rigiht to mention the devastation of the architectural patrimony of Paseo de Monteo by succewssive city administrations. If they had their way, they would level all of Downtown Mérida.

  4. The previous comments are spot-on. A tunnel inserted in Merida’s beautiful, central and historical soul would not be a natural, seamless, victimless action. And there is not even the fundamental geography for a reasonable-sounding, environmentally responsible argument for such a burrowing – not without possibly disastrous consequences. Multiple cultural edifices, historical treasures, a precious, unique urban atmosphere would be erased forever. How far out would the shallows of this undertaking reach, destroy? Alternative transportation is the only answer.

  5. A tunnel? Merida can barely maintain their streets and sidewalks. When heavy rains fall, many streets are flooded. Can you imagine what would happen in a tunnel?

  6. If I’ve interpreted correctly, the reports are the tunnel will begin approximately 3.5 football fields north and south of the current “Burger King fountain” glorieta. (365 meters) That is a long, long, long way for pedestrians to have to walk, just to cross the street.

  7. My first thought was “Oh great! A way for traffic to move even faster through Merida!” The speed of the traffic has to be controlled and the sidewalks need to be addressed before they go looking for ways to “improve” traffic flow. I agree with those who recommended reducing the amount of traffic as opposed to addressing its flow. Pedestrians are treated badly enough as it is. I can’t imagine something that’s going to make it worse for them (us).

    Is there anywhere we can send a petition or a letter, in English?

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