‘Leave my projects alone’
Cobonpue says underpass projects still had no feasibility study
Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña warned the Regional Development Council (RDC-7) to “leave my projects” alone yesterday, two days after the council refused to endorse the three underpass projects lobbied by Rep. Raul del Mar of Cebu City’s north district.
“As far as the RDC is concerned it’s just the blind leading the blind … I’ll take care of my projects. At this point in time, just leave me alone. We will put our things together. I got the BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) and I’m getting more,” Osmeña said.
RDC co-chairman Kenneth Cobonpue said they’re not blocking any projects but only want “proper sequence” and prioritization of projects to make sure they address traffic concerns.
“We are not blocking. We just want it in sequence. We will eventually get to an overpass, but let’s just improve first the intersections,” Cobonpue said in a press conference yesterday.
In a press conference at his office, Osmeña chided the RDC’s refusal to endorse del Mar’s three underpass projects worth P16 billion for inclusion in the list of next year’s projects by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
The RDC’s decision caused del Mar to walk out of last Friday’s council meeting held at a hotel in Barangay Apas, Cebu City. Osmeña described the incumbent RDC leadership as “incompetent.”
“They’re not helping anything. Period. Those guys don’t know anything. Just bad intentions and no competence. Period … But I will tell you if the RDC is ran by the government, it won’t do any damage,” Osmeña said.
Cobonpue earlier said they refused to endorse the underpass projects due to the heavy traffic congestion caused by the P638-million underpass project in Natalio Bacalso Avenue.
Cobonpue is a renowned international furniture maker and designer while former Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) President Glenn Soco headcs the RDC-7’s Infrastructure Development Committee.
Rather than more underpass projects, the RDC endorsed feasibility studies for a more generic “road capacity enhancement” in the three areas where the underpass projects proposed by Del Mar are located.
The areas covered by the underpass projects were D. Jakosalem St. to Talamban; S. Osmeña road to Salinas Drive; and from Ayala Access Road to F. Cabahug St.
But Osmeña said the RDC wanted to block del Mar’s projects.
“Why do we have to delay the project with a feasibility study when they are already conducting it? I know their style,” Osmeña said.
But Cobonpue said there is a recommendation from a study team of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in its roadmap study on Mitigation Measures for Traffic Bottlenecks.
The recommendations that were submitted by the JICA team to Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III in March 2016 called for “less capital-intensive to more capital-intensive” projects to address congestion at 20 intersections within Metro Cebu.
The study called for modification of “geometric designs and traffic signals” which can include flaring of intersections.
This would be followed by improvement of area traffic control through synchronized traffic signals and area-wide traffic control system. The third is “grade separation” or construction of underpasses or flyovers followed by road widening.
“What our politicians are doing is they prioritized flyovers and underpasses. They prioritized big-ticket or expensive projects,” Cobonpue said.
“Who is incompetent? If we ask data from them (DPWH), they cannot provide. Our suggestion is backed by studies and scientific data. You have to improve the intersections first so traffic can flow,” Cobonpue said when asked about Osmeña’s comments on the council.
Cobonpue said the DPWH should do better planning before implementing projects. Soco said the list of programs and projects lined up by the DPWH-7 office originally included three flyovers in Cebu City’s north district.
But he said they were surprised when the DPWH-7 wanted to push for underpass projects in these three areas for next year.
He said the DPWH should not decide on a project until the feasibility study is finished.
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