26 January 2020
(Editors Note: Today we are giving way our articles on power to another national problem that has been debilitating life, commerce, productivity, and the environment of millions of residents and visitors in the Metro-Manila area. That is the daily and all day traffic in Manila in the 23.8 kilometer highway from Pasay City in the South to Caloocan City in the North. It traverses the country’s premier business centers of Makati, Ortigas, Cubao. We are sharing with you the article of Lorenz S. Marasigan in the January 25 issue of the Business Mirror with quotes from Build, Build, Build Committee chairman Anna Mae Y. Lamentillo)
When it was constructed and extended between the 1930s and 1960s, plying the Edsa route would only take about half an hour. But now, on good days, the whole stretch may be traversed in just over an hour, but during bad days, end-to-end travel time by public transport could reach as much as three hours, or almost half an average working day in the Philippines.
This too long a ride not only consumes a huge amount of time for an average Filipino worker, but also poses health risks. Traffic and transport experts have told the BusinessMirror previously that the traffic congestion on Edsa during the holiday rush has “inevitably” become the “new normal.”
Neglect, the experts have said, is the root cause of the monstrous bottlenecks in Metro Manila’s main and secondary highways. This was exacerbated by the fact that more and more Filipinos have more spending power to own a car.
Today, Edsa is 39-percent over capacitated, according to Build, Build, Build (BBB) Committee chairman Anna Mae Y. Lamentillo, with over 402,000 vehicles using the road daily. Edsa has a maximum capacity of 288,000 vehicles per day.
“Edsa’s maximum capacity when it was built was at 288,000 vehicles per day, but the actual figures reach 402,000 vehicles daily. Edsa has already exceeded its capacity by 39 percent, and we want to bring it back to its original capacity,” Lamentillo said in a mix of Filipino and English at a recent BusinessMirror Coffee Club Forum, where she fielded questions from journalists from the ALC Media Group.
This means that the government intends to significantly cut the current travel time on Edsa and bring it back to its glory days, when one only needs 30 minutes to complete the whole route.
Lamentillo said the government’s masterplan for the decongestion of Edsa does not actually include expanding the main highway. Instead, secondary highways and bridges will be built and developed to serve as alternatives to Edsa.
“Before touching Edsa, you should solve alternative routes for commuters,” she said. “We call it the Edsa Decongestion Program.”
With a stiff timeline of just a little over three years, the program is a P383-billion initiative composed of 23 projects that involve the construction and development of roads, expressways and bridges. These projects will be funded through a mix of private funds, general appropriations, and foreign aid.
Adding road capacities
For roads, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) included in the program the development of Samar Street, the Laguna Lake Highway, the Fort Bonifacio-Nichols Field Road, and the Radial Road 10, or R-10.
Now both completed, Samar Street serves as an alternative to the stretch of Mother Ignacia and Timog in Quezon City, while the Laguna Lake Highway will serve as a secondary road for those traveling to the eastern corridors of Metro Manila.
The Fort Bonifacio-Nichols Field Road, or more commonly known as Lawton Avenue, will be widened to six lanes from three lanes to accommodate more vehicles. This project is expected to be completed within the year.
R-10, which is also already finished, is a “critical portion” for Manila’s port area, and will be complementary to the expressway development for the decongestion of Edsa.
For expressways, the government has tapped both Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) and San Miguel Corp. (SMC) to extend and expand their expressways to certain parts of the metropolis to lessen the vehicles on Edsa.
Skyway Stage 3, for instance, will run for about 18.3 kilometers between Buendia in Makati and Balintawak, Quezon City. Expected to be fully completed within the first half of this year, this section of the elevated thoroughfare will be linked to the North Luzon Expressway-South Luzon Expressway (Nlex/Slex) Connector Road.
The Connector Road, part of the Nlex concession, will be an eight-kilometer expressway that extends Nlex from the end of Circumferential Road 3 (C3) in Caloocan City to the Polytechnic University of the Philippines in Santa Mesa, Manila. This will provide port trucks with a 24/7 alternative to major highways. This project will be completed by May 2021.
Nlex has also extended its expressway to the port area through its Harbor Link initiative, which aims to further stretch the thoroughfare from C-3 Road to Radial 10 (R-10). It has also started the construction of Segment 8.2, which runs between Mindanao Avenue and Commonwealth in Quezon City, and is gearing toward finishing Segment 2C, an extension road for Mindanao Avenue.
Cavitex Infrastructure Corp. has also opened the first section of the C5 Southlink Expressway, which in totality will connect the Manila-Cavite Toll Expressway to C5 Road.
The last two on the list are the already-completed Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) Expressway and the ongoing civil works for the first phase of the Southeast Metro Manila Expressway, which will cut travel time between Taguig and Batasan, Quezon City, to 26 minutes from an hour and 50 minutes.
For bridges, the government aims to finish the Bonifacio Global City-Ortigas Link Program, composed of the Santa Monica-Lawton Bridge, and the Lawton Avenue-Global City Viaduct, within the year.
It is also making strides in completing the China grant-funded Binondo-Intramuros Bridge that will connect the walled city to the heart of Manila’s Chinatown. This is expected to be completed by 2021.
Another China-grant bridge included in the Edsa Decongestion Program is the Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge, which links Makati City and Mandaluyong. By February next year, this should be open to motorists, and will serve as an entry point to secondary arteries between the north and south of Metro Manila.
The government is also developing the Bataan-Cavite Interlink Bridge, which will be a 32.15-kilometer, four-lane facility that will start in Mariveles, Bataan, crossing Manila Bay to Naic, Cavite. Construction works are set for next year.
Lastly, the DPWH will construct a total of six bridges in the eastern corridor of Metro Manila —Pasig, Antipolo and Marikina.
Under the Pasig River and Manggahan Floodway Bridge Construction Project, the government will develop the North and South Harbor Bridge, the Palanca-Villegas Bridge, and the Eastbank-Westbank Bridge through 2023.
On the other hand, the Marikina River Bridges Construction Project involves the construction of three bridges with a combined 3,187.3-lineal meters. These bridges are the Marikina Vista Real Bridge, the JP Rizal-Lopez Jaena Bridge, and the JP Rizal-Saint Mary Bridge.
Feeling the effect?
Lamentillo said her group will be working double time to finish these projects within the term of President Duterte, who during his campaign promised to alleviate the traffic congestion in major cities, especially Metro Manila.
“We are hopeful that these will all be completed before the end of the President’s term in 2022. The year 2020 will be a big year, and our motorists will really feel the effect of these projects,” she said.
The goal is not only to reduce the economic losses from traffic congestion, which currently amount to a whopping P3.5 billion per day, but to alleviate the daily suffering of motorists due to congestion.
“Our goal is to have Edsa return to its original capacity through the alternative roads and bridges we are building,” Lamentillo said. “We’re making sure that these projects will not stay as plans but will actually materialize that the Filipino people will actually use.”
David Celestra Tan, MSK
We are sure our suffering people of Metro-Manila and the similarly frustrated visitors join us in our fervent hope that these well meaning government officials remain focused on this very grand plan and monumental challenge that will define the Presidency of PRRD in Metro-Manila, can really happen and not derailed by corruption, our country’s trademark waterloo.
Additionally, we hope that these roads, highways and bridges solutions will be complemented by an equally critical component which is overhead light rail mass transit system.
They might also consider a simple wheelbased shuttle train connecting the three main airports terminals.
The country is praying for your success in these Edsa Decongestion Plan
Maybe the two hours a day we can save stuck on the road, can partially compensate us for the atrocious electric power rates that the government has not been able to control for two decades.
MatuwidnaSingilsaKuryente Consumer Alliance Inc.