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Untangling the Gridlock: New roads for a better Cebu

By: Rosalie O. Abatayo September 25,2018 - 09:58 PM

A backhoe stands between pedestrians forced to walk on a broken road and motorists crawling at a snail’s pace along a repaired road along AC Cortes Avenue in Mandaue City.

With the growing count of vehicles on the streets of Metro Cebu and the daily economic losses due to traffic comes the demand for bigger and better roads.

Three big ticket projects with an accumulated cost of P1.75 billion are currently being implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways in Central Visayas (DPWH-7) in hopes of alleviating Cebu’s road congestion problems.

Among these projects are the P638-million Mambaling underpass in Cebu City, the P946-million tri-level depressed (underpass) project at U.N. Avenue in Mandaue City and the P165-million road rehabilitation project of Mandaue’s 8-lane Ouano Avenue.

The underpass project in Barangay Mambaling, which began in August 2017, is now on its fourth phase and is expected to be completed by the end of the year or sooner by 720 days than its initial completion date set in March 2019.

Upon completion, the underpass will have two lanes — one going southbound and another, northbound to accommodate vehicles going from Cebu City to the south and vice versa while passing through N. Bacalso Avenue.

On each side of the depressed portion are existing two-lane streets which can accommodate the traffic to and from F. Llamas Street.

The entire project will be 700 meters long; but the actual underpass will be only 620 meters with a vertical clearance of 5.2 meters.

The underpass will have a sump tank which will store runoff water so that rainwater will not flow into the depressed portion.

The stored water will then be pumped into a drainage line which is among the components of the project.

Although the construction has brought agony to southbound commuters due to monstrous traffic jams within the area on peak hours, Engr. Nonato Paylado, chief of DPWH-7 Planning and Design Division said that once completed, the underpass will reduce travel time to and from the south by about 20 to 30 minutes.

Businessman Glenn Soco, chairperson of the Regional Development Council (RDC-7) Infrastructure Development Committee, in an interview, called the underpass as one of the “right projects only at the wrong time and sequence.”

“That should have been done a long time ago. It was really not prepared because you need to add the capacity first before you subtract the capacity. It is not as simple as just putting up an underpass there,” said Soco referring to the bulk of commuters and motorists inconvenienced by the project due to the absence of good alternative routes.

During its third phase, the southbound portion of N. Bacalso Avenue covered by the project was closed to traffic, prompting the Cebu City Transportation Office (CCTO) to redirect vehicles to small interior roads.

Soco said that the situation would have been avoided had there been a road widening project before the actual underpass construction.

U.N. Avenue

Soco expressed the same concern over the tri-level project at the U.N. Avenue in Mandaue City.

“While we look at more infrastructure projects, we have to do the right projects and do them right,” said Soco.

Soco noted that infrastructure projects such as underpasses and flyovers could only worsen traffic if additional capacity routes are not provided before the actual construction.

Stage 1 of the U.N. Avenue tri-level depressed project which involves the clearing of obstructions began last July.

The 952-meter project will consist of a four-lane underpass that will connect directly to the Marcelo Fernan Bridge, a two-lane service road, and a flyover.

The underpass will span 600 meters with entry points at the intersection of U.N. Avenue and Plaridel Street, and at the base of Marcelo Fernan Bridge.

Vehicles bound to and from Mactan Island via Marcelo Fernan Bridge will traverse through the tunnel while those crossing U.N. Avenue from nearby streets will use the service roads and the flyover.

The project is expected to be completed in June 2020 or within 910 calendar days from the design phase last December 2017.

Ouano Avenue

Meanwhile, the rehabilitation of the 1.9 kilometer Ouano Avenue is now on the second out of six phases.

The reconcreting of the road that started in February this year involves filling in 35-centimeter thick concrete on the existing asphalt.

While the three major projects are in progress, another infrastructure development that stretches from Naga City in the south all the way to Danao City, northern Cebu is also underway.

Last July, DPWH-7 began civil works for segment three of the 70-kilometer Metro Cebu Expressway at the junction of the Naga-Uling Road in Barangay Pangdan, City of Naga.

The project is divided into three segments: Talisay City to Mandaue City (segment 1); Consolacion town to Danao City (segment 2); and Naga City to Minglanilla town (segment 3).

The expressway will traverse Metro Cebu’s upland areas with distribution roads connecting to the main highways of each city that it passes through.

The expressway which will serve as a complementary road to the existing N. Bacalso Avenue and South Coastal Road is aimed to decongest traffic as it will distribute the number of vehicles traversing through these roads.

An initial P300-million budget was appropriated for the project; but DPWH is looking into completing the expressway through a Private-Public Partnership (PPP) agreement.

Paylado said that an international Chinese firm has expressed willingness to partner with DPWH in the construction of segments one and two which will follow upon completion of segment three.

Aside from the major projects that are currently in progress, Paylado said DPWH-7 will focus its resources on the acquisition of right of way for the projects that they plan to do in 2020.

“We would do the projects in alternating schemes. This year we focus on the acquisition of property then for the next year we do the road works on those areas that are already settled,” said Paylado.

DPWH-7 was initially given a budget of P18 billion for 2019, of which P7 billion will be used for projects in Cebu.

Soco slammed the allocation saying that this would not be enough to sustain all the projects intended to mitigate Metro Cebu’s worsening traffic situation.

“It is really small. It is a far cry from the plans and programs that we endorsed in the RDC and we discussed it with the DPWH officials. We challenged them for 2020 that they have to do better,” said Soco.

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TAGS: better, gridlock, new, roads, Untangling

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