Putting the brakes on underpass projects
The clash between Cebu City Hall and the Regional Development Council (RDC-7) over the non-inclusion of three underpass projects worth P16 billion in next year’s list of projects by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) may seem like a case of nosy bureaucrats overstepping their bounds and poking their noses where they shouldn’t be.
At least that’s how Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña makes it appear as he called them “incompetents” and accused them of having ill motives for refusing to endorse the three underpass projects being lobbied by Rep. Raul del Mar of Cebu City’s north district in some areas of Cebu City.
That is until RDC chairman Kenneth Cobonpue explained that they only wanted “sequencing,” i.e. prioritization of projects that are less “capital intensive” like flaring intersections before the conduct of feasibility studies that would determine if flyovers and underpasses are needed to ease the city’s traffic congestion.
In justifying their refusal to endorse Del Mar’s underpass projects, the RDC pointed to the traffic nightmare caused by the ongoing P600 million plus underpass project at Natalio Bacalso Avenue.
This project may also be used by the RDC as justification to reject another underpass project at UN Avenue in Mandaue City, to Mandaue City Hall’s chagrin owing to the possible aggravation of traffic in that area considered as the nexus point for Metro Cebu’s traffic flow.
RDC infrastructure committee chairman Glenn Soco also disclosed that the underpass projects were included in next year’s DPWH list even with no feasibility studies conducted yet on the viability of underpass projects in areas like D. Jakosalem St. to Talamban; S. Osmeña road to Salinas Drive; and from Ayala Access Road to F. Cabahug St.
Soco also said there were three flyover projects proposed by Del Mar in these areas. It has to be clarified whether both flyovers and underpass projects will be implemented in these areas or if Del Mar based his proposals on a study by the Japan International Agency for Cooperation (Jica) who called for feasibility studies first and less capital intensive projects to resolve traffic problems.
This isn’t the first time that Del Mar’s projects faced a roadblock of sorts; his proposed flyover projects at Gorordo Avenue which were part of his proposed flyover network in Cebu City got stalled indefinitely due to opposition from the Asilo dela Milagrosa Church and orphanage who would be affected by the project and other stakeholders.
In any case, it’s best to employ caution rather than go whole hog and implement projects without careful study on its ramifications to the commuters, public transport and motorists who are languishing and will continue to suffer the constriction of road space caused by the Natalio Bacalso Avenue underpass project.
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