By Morexette Marie B. Erram and Doris Mae C. Mondragon |July 07,2018 - 09:30 PM

BUMPER-TO-BUMPER traffic stretching over a kilometer lasted for hours on Saturday, July 7, 2018, along N. Bacalso Ave. as traffic authorities closed the road’s northbound lane as a prelude to Monday’s three-month closure of the lane to pave the way for Phase 4 of the Mambaling underpass project.


It would usually take Jesus Regor just under two hours to travel the 12-kilometers road from Talisay City, Cebu’s gateway to the south, to Cebu City. Yesterday, Regor’s commute took nearly five hours.

The traffic snarl was so horrendous, it took Regor, 61, a retired car salesman from Barangay Jaclupan, Talisay City, by surprise.

It was not only Regor who was taken aback by the severe traffic congestion.

Hundreds of commuters flooded social media with complaints, as traffic enforcement authorities in Cebu City and the Department of Public Works and Highways in Central Visayas (DPWH-7) started a dry run for the new scheme to be implemented starting on Monday, July 9, along N. Bacalso Ave. when the road’s northbound lane would be closed for three months to give way to the fourth phase of the P638-million underpass project in the area.

“Ang gisakyan nako nga jeep gikan Tabunok sa Talisay City, dinhi man niagi sa highway (N. Bacalso) unya gisirad-an naman diay ang northbound nga dalan. Mao nga natanggong mi ug usa ka oras kapin sa may Cabreros dapit,” said Regor.

(The jeepney I boarded from Tabunok, Talisay City took the highway route but we didn’t know that the northbound lane was closed. That’s why we were stuck on Cabreros Street for over an hour.)

If only he were informed about the new traffic scheme on N. Bacalso Ave., Regor said he could have woken up earlier to avoid yesterday’s gridlock.

“Naa koy appointment gahapon sa SM City Cebu pero late nako kaabot tungod sa traffic (I have an appointment in SM City Cebu but I arrived late because of the traffic),” Regor lamented.

The traffic buildup, stretching up to a kilometer from Cabreros St. in Barangay Mambaling up to Barangay Kinasang-an, calso Ave., started shortly before 10 a.m. and only eased sometime around 5 p.m. yesterday.

Hundreds of passengers – both bound for Cebu City coming from the southern part of Cebu and those heading south, opted to walk rather than get stuck in traffic for hours.

Commuters started walking from N. Bacalso Ave. to Barangay Pardo and in Cabreros Street after the closure on Saturday, July 7, 2018, of the northbound lane of the avenue.

Patience, understanding

The Department of Public Works and Highway in Central Visayas (DPWH-7), which is implementing the Mambaling underpass project, and the Cebu City Transportation Office (CCTO), conducted the dry run so they could find out what adjustments would be needed once the the northbound lane would close on Monday.

Phase 4 of the underpass project requires the closure of northbound lane of N. Bacalso Ave., while at the same time opening the road’s southbound portion and F. Llamas Street.

Engineer Roy Dela Cruz, DPWH-7’s project engineer, asked for the commuters’ understanding and patience, as closing the northbound lane is vital to finishing the project on time.

He also enjoined commuters, particularly workers and students, to leave their homes early to get to their destinations on time.

“Phase 4 will consist of the board piling in the area near Shopwise (in Barangay Mambaling). That’s why we have to close the northbound lane. It will last around three months (until October),” said Dela Cruz.

Dela Cruz and CCTO chief Francisco Ouano attributed yesterday’s heavy traffic to the sudden changes made on Phase 4’s traffic plan, and the lack of information dissemination.

“We conducted the dry run on a weekend to lessen the hassle for the motorists since there are no classes and work in the government,” said Ouano.

“But one of the factors that contributed to the heavy traffic was that the drivers were not fully informed on the change of traffic scheme, and its schedule,” he added.

DPWH-7 and Citom initially announced that they would hold the dry run from 12 noon to midnight over the weekend. But they opted instead to implement the new traffic scheme based on the actual schedule.

The traffic plan’s schedule will allow northbound vehicles to access N. Bacalso Ave. from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. On the other hand, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., the avenue will only accommodate those bound for southern Cebu City and Talisay City.

“We based this traffic scheme on the volume of traffic during rush hours in the morning and afternoon,” explained Ouano.

Ouano also revealed that traffic worsened yesterday in Tagunol Street because two Ceres buses malfunctioned and because of an accident involving two vehicles.

“These incidents also contributed to the heavy traffic particularly in the morning,” he added.

Dela Cruz said that DPWH-7 would also post information materials near the project’s site so that motorists will be aware of the new traffic scheme, and its corresponding schedule.

Construction of the underpass in N. Bacalso began in August 2017, which was met with complaints from motorists and commuters residing in southern Metro Cebu due to the traffic congestion it brought.

Phase 5

Dela Cruz once again assured the public that traffic on N. Bacalso Ave. would considerably ease when they would reach Phase 5 of the underpass project.

He said both lanes of N. Bacalso Ave. will be opened to traffic once they will proceed with Phase 5.

“In Phase 5, we will finally start with the construction of the underpass itself. So definitely, the side roads, which are the two lanes of N. Bacalso, will be opened for traffic. So in Phase 5, we can expect an improvement in the traffic flow,” he added.

The underpass project is targeted for completion by March 2019. But Dela Cruz said they were aiming to get the project “substantially operational” before this year ends.

“Right now, our progress is around 75 to 80 percent,” said Dela Cruz.

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