Revitalizing Colon

By: Editorial December 26,2014 - 11:24 PM

The revitalization of Colon Street was part of the priority  list of projects of Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama when he sought  re-election last year.  His nostalgia was evident in his days before that as vice mayor and councilor.

One could probably pardon the delay in implementing the project, given the enormity of the task.

But his Executive Order 14-17 stepped on a lot of toes, especially the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) that  opposes the closure of Colon Street, a national road. It should stay open to the public, said the agency.

The EO stated that the closure is intended to convert Colon Street into a walking zone. The intention was also to avoid overcrowding in the area during the night market which operates from 6 p.m. to 12 midnight.

Last Wednesday’s public hearing on the Colon revitalization project should be the start of a continuing dialogue among stakeholders and  hopefully would be  realized even beyond Rama’s term or his successor.

Pedestrian-friendly areas in a cramped metropolis are a real need. Tourism,   local enterprise, even public health levels,  stand to benefit.

Colon Street is the country’s oldest street and sure looks it. Shabby  structures that were once imposing edifies in their  day, like   theaters and movie houses, still exist side by side with stores that have no   aesthetic sense.  Nearby, the

Metropolitan Cathedral with its museum and the Sto. Niño Basilica with the Parian area extend its  unmistakable  heritage value.  If only people could explore the area safely on foot without getting run over by jeepneys and cars.

Its not just the buildings in Colon that evoke history, but the Chinese-Cebuano merchant culture that started there.  But a dowdy old lady needs help,  a major facelift.

Downtown  Cebu City was the business center  decades back.  It’s long been eclipsed by the shiny malls sprouting uptown with more rising near the waterfront.

Efforts by the  Rama administration to breathe new life in Colon are most welcome, even if it will take major investment and public education.

If DPWH asserts Colon Street’s identity as a  national road, it whould explain what it has done to  to contribute to its upkeep – and stem its obvious deterioration.

Otherwise, we are just talking about a turf battle,  what one agency can legally bring up to exhibit its clout in decision making.

If DPWH can’t show anything more than paperwork, it should work instead with  Cebu City Hall. The agency should keep in mind that the concrete pavement may be a national surface, but traffic decisions remain in the grip of the local government.

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TAGS: Colon, Colon Street, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) 7
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