Traffic ‘a disaster’

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Wednesday, July 2, 2014


WITHOUT any consultation, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama expanded the “no left turn” policy, which was implemented yesterday on both sides of the road from the corner of Gorordo Ave. to Barangay Talamban proper.

Rama also led City Hall personnel in removing obstructions on the sidewalks on Archbishop Reyes Ave. and Gov. Cuenco Ave. up to the corner of Barangay Cabancalan in Mandaue City to help address the traffic problem.

He gave department heads one month to restore the sidewalks, demolish illegal structures that obstruct traffic and remove posts that are no longer being used.

In his news conference yesterday, Rama said the traffic situation in the area is in a “state of calamity, a disaster,” that’s why he had to act on it immediately and did not have time to consult stakeholders.

“There’s already chaos. It’s already a calamity situation where you have to put order right away… Things will not be perfect, but everybody already saw that there is really a problem,” Rama told reporters yesterday.

Rush hour

He said, though, that he will invite affected residents, barangay officials, business owners, the administration of affected schools and the Department of Public Works and Highways to a consultation next week to hear their proposals on how the traffic problem should be addressed.

He called on DPWH and Rep. Raul del Mar (Cebu City, north district) to pay attention to the traffic and implement long-term solutions such as widening the roads, instead of constructing flyovers.

Until a permanent and more sustainable solution is identified, motorists will not be allowed to make a left turn on the eight-kilometer stretch, except in intersections with traffic lights.

The “no left turn” policy is in effect during rush hours, from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

“But we may have to extend that because as you can see, every hour is now rush hour in that area. We will wait for the recommendation of those who are assessing the traffic situation,” Rama said in his news conference.

The traffic plan also affects parts of Salinas Drive in Lahug and Escario St., where motorists are not allowed to make a left turn.

Longer rides

Rama’s policy upset motorists and jeepney passengers as early as Monday afternoon. Some of them aired their gripes on social networking sites.

“Kinsa ning bright kaayo na idea na no left turn sa USC TC entrance oi?!?!?” read one of the comments posted on Facebook.

She said the traffic situation worsened with the no left turn rule since motorists stop to find a spot where they can make a U-turn.

An office employee also complained that her usual 10-minute ride from Talamban to Banilad lasted an hour yesterday since the taxi had to go all the way to Cabancalan to make a U-turn.

But seeing the heavy traffic on the way back, the driver decided to take the Mandaue route going to Banilad instead. Her cab fare ballooned to P225 instead of the P60 fare she pays if she takes the Gov. Cuenco route.

Atty. Joel Bontuyan, head of the Energy Regulatory Commission Visayas office, said there was “no perceivable improvement in Ban-Tal (traffic) even after the ‘no left turn’ was implemented.” He attached to his tweet a screenshot of a Waze data showing the traffic flow in the affected areas past 5 p.m.

Bontuyan added that the new traffic scheme would’ve been a nice idea “if only there are lateral roads to the Talamban road where you can make a U-turn like Cabancalan.

The problem is the next lateral road from A.S. Fortuna is M.L. Quezon Ave.”

More roads

On Facebook, users were unanimous in saying that the new policy failed to ease the traffic in the areas affected and worsened the situation instead.

“We need more roads, many, many more, if the government wants to keep up with, and support the growing economy instead of being the reason for its stagnancy,” wrote Connie Sta. Ana Cimafranca.

Another Facebook user, Albert Christian Co, said Citom should instead go after the public utility jeepneys at the University of Cebu/Gaisano Country Mall area, which he said are the ones causing traffic.

Aside from implementing the traffic plan, Rama also wants the jeepney stop in front of the University of San Carlos Technological Center (USC-TC) in Talamban moved several meters away from the campus gate.

The pedestrian lanes will also have to be transferred away from USC-TC, one of the problem areas identified.

All structures encroaching on the sidewalks and roads will also be removed because these aggravate the traffic situation, the mayor said.

Cleared

Starting at 4:30 a.m. yesterday, Rama and other city officials surveyed the eight-kilometer stretch on foot and identified structures that encroach on the sidewalks and the roads.

At least 10 tables of eatery owners, stalls and water dispensers that obstructed the sidewalk were removed on the spot, some of which were confiscated by the Prevention Restoration Order Beautification and Enhancement (Probe).

Probe Chief Raquel Arce said that some 30 permanent structures encroaching on the sidewalk or road will also be removed with the help of the Department of Public Works and Highways, which maintains Gov. Cuenco and Archbishop Reyes Avenues, which are both national roads.

This includes the fence of the Technical Education and Skills Development Administration, which reportedly encroached on the sidewalk.

Rama also wants contractors of defective sidewalks investigated because several sidewalks do not follow the standard size, he said.

In a separate interview, Citom Executive Director Rafael Yap said that additional traffic enforcers will be deployed to the Banilad-Talamban area to guide motorists and apprehend those who violate the “no left turn” policy.

Changes

Those apprehended will be fined P500 for disregarding traffic signs.

“We already installed traffic signs and we will put up tarpaulin signs that will indicate where they can turn,” Yap said.

Those coming from Escario St. cannot turn left to go to Banilad and will have to go inside the Cebu Business Park instead and make a U-turn there.

Those coming from Barrio Luz, Crossroads, Banilad Town Center (BTC) and the subdivisions on Gov. Cuenco Ave. in Banilad and Talamban also cannot turn left to go toward Ayala.

Motorists also cannot turn left to go to IT Park at the junction in Paradise Village, and to Country Mall.

They will have to make a U-turn under the Juan Luna Ave. flyover or the flyover in Foodland in Banilad.

Those going to USC TC will have to turn right to Cabancalan in Mandaue and make a U-Turn to go back to the main road in Talamban.

Motorists coming from Talamban also cannot turn left to the subdivisions, to BTC, to Crossroads and other intersections without traffic lights.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 02, 2014.

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