‘Finish in 2 weeks’-A A +A
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
WORK may resume tonight on the old Mactan-Mandaue bridge, but the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) must finish it in two weeks, the bridge’s managers said last night.
Also, the DPWH’s contractor can only work from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., the Metro Cebu Bridge Management Board (MCBMB) decided in a resolution.
Before the bridge board met, the DPWH suspended yesterday the repairs on the old bridge because of complaints from workers, students and business owners about the extra traffic.
DPWH 7 Director Ador Canlas said the agency will find another way to implement the project that will not cause massive traffic, like what happened since one lane of the 40-year-old bridge was closed last Monday.
Canlas, however, said they cannot wait until the summer months, during the school break. He also sent a representative to last night’s meeting of the MCBMB at the Capitol.
“The private contractor will be working from 10 p.m. up to 6 a.m. only and it will be done in two weeks,” said Acting Gov. Agnes Magpale, who presided over the meeting.
In a separate press conference, Rep. Eduardo Gullas (Cebu Province, first district) told reporters that Cebu officials must now prepare for the future by pushing for a third bridge between Cebu mainland and Lapu-Lapu.
Gullas said he is amenable to an earlier proposal to construct an underwater tunnel from Cebu City to Cordova. However, that would need a reclamation area on both sides, and Malacañang is facing appeals to suspend all reclamations for 10 years.
Canlas said the DPWH did not expect so much criticism on the repairs because there was no objection when this was discussed during the bridge board meeting three weeks ago.
“We adopted that scheme because there was no objection from the bridge management board,” Canlas said.
Canlas referred to the closure of half of the bridge—the lane from Lapu-Lapu City to Mandaue—so the asphalt could be removed and replaced.
“We had a series of public advisories to guide the public during the implementation of the project. And now that several sectors are complaining, we have to find another option,” Canlas said.
As of noon yesterday, traffic on the other lane (from Mandaue to Lapu-Lapu) was smooth.
But on the Marcelo B. Fernan Bridge, bumper-to-bumper traffic stretched from the bridge to the Lapu-Lapu City public market and near the Mactan Cebu International Airport.
Commuters and students from the University of Cebu Lapu-Lapu/Mandaue (UCLM), whose campus sits near the approach to the old bridge, were seen walking across the bridge.
Meanwhile, the number of passengers of Metro Ferry Inc., which crosses the channel from Muelle Osmeña in Lapu-Lapu to Pier 3 in Cebu City, suddenly doubled, said an employee who refused to be identified.
She said about 30 passengers bought tickets every 30 minutes.
Metro Ferry charges a regular fare of P14, and a P12 discounted fare for students and senior citizens and P8 for children.
A plan is also being studied to authorize one more ferry service between the islands, said Director Ahmed Cuizon of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).
The DPWH earlier estimated it would take two months, with crews working 24-7, to complete the repairs.
But contractor Peter Dy of PLD Construction said, “Dugay na nang two months (Two months is too long).”
Dy said the firm already completed more than one-fourth of the project. If there will be an extension, which he also described as highly unlikely, he said it will only be for one or two days.
When the repair crews work at night, one lane of the bridge will remain open, out of consideration for those going to the airport.
Pericles Dakay, vice chair of the MCBMB, suggested that Dy borrow another road equipment to hasten the work, but Dy said he will still study that proposal.
Airport Manager Nigel Paul Villarete, an engineer, asked DPWH engineers to submit a complete count of people crossing the bridge daily, to help them plan future bridge closures.
The meeting was attended by representatives of Cebu, Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue cities, the Coast Guard, Naval Forces Central, DPWH, Land Transportation Office, LTFRB and other agencies involved in bridge management.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 27, 2013.