Cordova mayor suggests calling 3rd Mactan bridge after Sto. Niño
Big dreams for a 3rd Mactan-Cebu Bridge seemed closer to reality on Jan. 1 when officials of Cebu City and province joined Cordova town leaders for the groundbreaking of the proposed project in Shell Island.
Cordova Mayor Adelino Sitoy suggested naming the structure the Sto. Niño Bridge to honor the Child Jesus whose centuries-old icon has been the symbol of the birth of Christianity in the Far East.
“Four years ago, thinking about the bridge felt like wishing for the moon and stars. Three years from now, (in 2018) hopefully the people of Cordova can pass through the bridge and join in celebrating Sinulog every January,” said Sitoy in his remarks.
Financing for the P16.5 billion project will depend on the Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC), the largest toll road operator in the country identified with the investment group headed by Manuel V. Pangilinan.
Since a toll bridge would be financed by the private sector as partners, implementation will depend on how well Cordova and Cebu City package terms of the project.
Cebu City has yet to submit its complete set of documents to MPTC while Cordova said it already finished its terms for a private-public partnership.
MPTC consultants Aristotle Batuhan and Francis Roxas were present in the event, along with Cordova barangay officials and local and foreign businessmen.
A proposed revenue-sharing scheme at 95-5 percent would have five percent equally divided between Cebu City and Cordova.
Mayor Sitoy said the proposed bridge would open the “small, secluded town” of Cordova to investors as a gateway to the hotels and white sand beaches in Mactan.
From Cebu City to Shell Island is a short 520-meter link. Then a 4.76 kilometer causeway would connect the island to barangay Pilipog in Cordova, Mactan Island.
Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama welcomed the opportunity for the city to rehabilitate Guadalupe River where the structure is expected to take off.
A 3rd bridge is seen to address traffic congestion in Metro Cebu, with the Marcelo Fernan Bridge and old Mandaue-Mactan bridge considered inadequate for the fast urbanization of the metropolis.
Mayor Sitoy said a new bridge would reduce travel time from Cebu City to the airport in Lapu-Lapu City to five minutes and that one could reach barangay Pilipog in Cordova in less than three minutes.
The bridge is meant to absorb an expected increase in traffic volume in view of developments in Mactan Island which includes the new passenger terminal of the Mactan Cebu International Airport that will be completed by 2018.
Once both local government units (LGUs) submit all required documents, they will start looking into other designs for the bridge.
So far, two potential designs have been submitted.
One is by the University of San Carlos (USC) College of Fine Arts and Architecture (Cafa) headed by Dean Joseph Michael Espina while the other by MPTC has a similar design to the two existing Mactan-Mandaue bridges.
If an agreement is reached, construction can start in mid-2015 with the structure open to the public in a span of three years or in 2018.
The bridge will start at the portion of Shell Island in barangay Pilipog, Cordova and end at the mouth of the Guadalupe River near the Cebu South Coastal Road Tunnel.
The main bridge will connect Guadalupe River to Shell Island, according to Cordova municipal engineer Soripo Singculan.
From the island, a four-lane causeway will be established up to barangay Pilipog. From there, the structure will link with the circumferential highway that leads to the airport.
In anticipation of the influx of vehicles in the town, Sitoy said an alternate route such as a coastal highway must be built around Mactan aside from it’s smaller interior roads.
Once the bridge is in place, said Mayor Rama, Cebu city will set up a sewer system below it , and beside it a walkway, complete with bicycle lanes.
He also mentioned setting up a boardwalk or boulevard with “incubator buildings” to temporarily house evicted informal settlers.
”We can even convert Shell Island into a concert island, put a convertible stage and use this for Sinulog with the city lights as a natural backdrop,” said Rama.
Mayor Rama described the bridge project as “providential” since it complements his plans of beautifying Guadalupe River and moving out informal settlers from the river’s three-meter easement.
Cebu Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale attended the ceremony with Cordova Vice Mayor Therese Sitoy-Cho. ide III and National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA-7) Regional Director Efren Carreon.
Magpale assured support of the province, saying the project “came in perfect timing” with Cebu City and the Capitol administration in harmony.
She said the province is willing to grant administrative authority to Cordova town if in need of one for the project.
“The support of the province is here. When Mayor Sitoy asked for a resolution, we in the Provincial Board immediately gave it to him,” said Magpale in her speech.
“This will also be a dream come true for me if ever I will be able to see the establishment of all the three bridges in my lifetime,” she said.
One estimate places the toll fee for bridge users at P55.
Gov. Hilario Davide III, in an interview, he does not see anything wrong with the MPTC’s proposed P55 toll fee which will apply for cars, passenger jeepneys and sports utility vehicles (SUVs).
The amount will be doubled for light trucks and buses and three-times more for multi-axle or heavy trucks.
“I don’t think the public will complain about that. Those who can afford cars, the middle class, can surely pay that toll. As long as those who are in a rush going to Mactan will have a third option,” said the governor.
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