The Amador Causeway is by far one of Panama City’s most iconic neighborhoods, but up until now it’s been plagued by traffic issues, poor oversight, and general abandonment. But the tide seems to be changing for this chain of connected islands in Panama City, with a government commitment to the tune of nearly half a billion dollars in improvements which include a widening of the road, a new convention center and even a potential cruise ship terminal.
Delivering on Promises
One public spending initiative that’s definitely a GO is the road widening project which consists of an additional lane for car traffic coming in and going out of the Causeway along with the addition of bike and running lanes plus some much needed new landscaping. That $60 million dollar project is nearly 90% complete, with a projected delivery date of January 2017.
Everyone in town is looking forward to this three year project finally getting finished because once that road is done, expect a windfall for tourism, bringing the once popular Causeway back into favor with travel guides and Panama City residents alike. Before the expansion, things slowed because traffic was a real issue getting out to the Causeway, especially during the evenings on Saturday and Sunday, by far the most popular days to visit.
The $200 million dollar convention center is also a GO after several false starts and a new general contractor (Chinese construction giant CCA has teamed up with an international consortium to finish the job). The massive convention center is due for delivery in 2018 and should boost hotel occupancy throughout the city once it’s in operation, not to mention fill up the dozens of restaurants while conventions, concerts and cultural events are being held.
The Frank Gehry designed Bio Museum, already popular with tourists, will have a $18 million dollar aquarium to add to its current offering, bringing the total investment up to nearly $100 million. That’s due for delivery around the same time as the new Convention Center, so figure 2 years from now.
And the cherry on the cake (and what could tip the scales for the entire Pacific coast) is the recent announcement of the Panama Maritime Authority in conjunction with the national tourism board to develop a Cruise ship terminal on Isla Perico, the second to last island on the Causeway.
This $30 million dollar initiative will be put out to bid before the end of the year, according to the office of the Presidency. The design will incorporate commercial structures and maritime infrastructure comprising a total area of nearly 11 hectares.
While the cruise ship terminal is still in the “we hope it will happen” category, the national government has already set aside the funds to proceed along with a timeline of 18 months from the date the bid is awarded to delivery on the project.
The Panama Equity Perspective
Amador is a truly special and historic area of the city and it’s been quite slow to take off. Businesses on the Amador Causeway have struggled due to seasonal fluctuations and the chaos that comes from so many improvement projects happening at the same time.
The good news is that “the end is near” for the most disruptive project which is the road expansion. For the short term, look for new businesses opening and restaurants filling up once again as Panamanians and visitors to Panama rediscover their Causeway.