The Ajijic Delegado sits down for a conversation on streets and traffic lights.
Delegado Juan Ramón Flores describes the complexity of working on streets in Ajijic neighborhoods.
Photo: Patrick O’Heffernan.
Patrick O’Heffernan. Ajijic, JAL. The Delegado of Ajijic, Juan Ramón Flores, sat down with Semanario Laguna Tuesday morning for a frank discussion of the state of streets and streetlights in Ajijic, a continuing topic of controversy. As any resident, Ex-pat or Mexican can attest, potholes abound, stop lights are hard to see and often have burned out bulbs, and progress is slow on fixing them. Last year, the City and the Municipality of Chapala embarked on a comprehensive street upgrade, which included a sidewalk on the Carretera in downtown Ajijic, improved bicycle paths, repainting the facades of private buildings on the Carretera, and installation of some underground utilities. Supporting this effort, this past summer the Ex-Pat King, Queen Steve Cross, and Catherine Claire Blythe embarked on an $88,000mx volunteer program to repair potholes, beginning with the north end of street Revolución.
Delegado Flores pulled out maps of planned improvements and pictures and budgets of ongoing projects, but he was clear that funding projects was complex because of overlapping jurisdictions.
On top of determining who would pay for what, projects had to be selected by the taxpayers and that controversy over use the use of cement, the street appearance, and other local disputes held up work even when money was available. The controversy over the use of concrete for crosswalks at the intersection of Ocampo and Aquiles Serdán is one example, but not the only one or the last one he said. He pointed out that the need for local buy-in and agreement means that street repairs proceed with many small projects one project at a time.
Complicating the situation is that the SIMAPA agency in Chapala is responsible for potholes and the Federal government is responsible for repairing the Carretera. Flores has often taken matters into his own hands by personally filling potholes on the Carretera with materials and skilled workers from Chapala when the Federal government does not.
“The streets are for everyone, even if they are not our responsibility. That is why I and my family and friends go out ourselves and fill in the potholes on the Carretera,” he said.
As for costs, he pulled out the construction plans and photos of a recent project involving replacing cobblestones on streets of Ocampo, Constitución, Flores Magón, Aldama and surrounding streets, with a budget of $417,720mx from the Municipality of Chapala. Other projects will be budgeted as they are reviewed and selected, and the neighborhoods reach agreement on them.
The other topic involving traffic that he talked about was traffic lights – why are there so few of them on corners, why are they so hard to see, and why are so many bulbs burned out. The subject animated him and he was adamant that this needed fixing.
““I don’t know who put in the traffic lights in Ajijic, but I lived in the US for some years and you could see the lights from everywhere at the corners. Here, it is not good. We need to change that,” he said.
He mentioned several intersections on the Carretera that were not safe and had seen accidents as locations that needed better traffic control, plus the roundabout at the entrance to La Floresta. When asked about burned out light bulbs in traffic lights on the Carretera, he did not have the information at his fingertips, but he called the town’s engineering staff and asked them to forward information on replacing burned out traffic light bulbs, adding more traffic lights at unsafe corners, and pinpointing corners that need priority work. He promised to forward the information to us as soon as it is available. Unfortunately, residents -and even the Delegado- can’t take matters into their hands and replace stoplight bulbs and add more lights to intersections by themselves. Traffic control has to be arranged, parts and skilled workers need to lined up as well as money (watch this space).