SRP traffic and master plan

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Monday, May 26, 2014


SM Seaside City, said to be the biggest mall in the Visayas and Mindanao, is set to open this coming September. Since it is located inside the South Road Properties (SRP), its management is therefore jittery about the impact its operation will have on the traffic situation in the area. The South Coastal Road that passes the new mall is, after all, still the “freest” thoroughfare in lowland Cebu City.

Months ago, SM opened up a discussion with the Cebu City Government on the proposed Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system and how it impacts on the mode of transportation that can be used at the SRP once SM operates and the nearby Filinvest housing area gets crowded with clients. The goal is to ensure that traffic bottlenecks won’t surface in SRP roads by then.

The initiative triggered some talk--after that, nothing.

Now Sherry Tuvilla, SM Prime Holdings Inc. regional operations manager for the Visayas, is at it again. Her letter to Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella and the city council is once more about SRP traffic management once SM Seaside City opens. Now, the concern is about infrastructure.

“With the opening of the mall, we are expecting significant impact on traffic and accessibility at the SRP. Relative to this, we are concerned about the present condition of the commercial road and the interior road adjacent to the SM Seaside City complex as well as the narrow span of the Mambaling road,” Tuvilla said in her letter.

People who often pass by the SRP in their trips to the northern or southern parts of Cebu or who go to mass at the Chapel of San Pedro Calungsod probably know the roads Tuvilla is referring to. The chapel is inside the SM Seaside City complex and can be reached using a new road that branches from the Mambaling access road and the coastal road.

Indeed, the interior roads near SM Seaside City are works in progress. As for the Mambaling access road, it is not only relatively narrow (it is expected to become the main entry point to the mall) it is also not well paved.

It’s good that the city council will be tackling Tuvilla’s letter through a public hearing set for June 25 that will be attended not only by SM representatives but also by concerned City Hall departments and offices. But the tackling of the issue should have been done earlier.

Admittedly, I too would like to see the city’s traffic management plan as SRP development moves to its next phase. Or should the question be, does such an SRP traffic management plan already exist? Whatever happened to the discussion on the mode of transport for the SRP?

Or to broaden the discussion, is there even a master plan, which incorporates infrastructure and traffic schemes, in place for the SRP? The lack of a master plan was pointed out in 2008 by a representative of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica), which loaned the money used to reclaim the area.

“There was no master plan presented to us. We know the ideas of Mayor (Tomas) Osmeña for the SRP but it has to be a written document,” the Jica representative, Jun Watanabe, said then. But Michael Rama, not Osmeña, is now the Cebu City mayor. Has a master plan been drafted?

I think the city’s constituents will be interested in this because I am sure some of them want the city to include their suggestions in the master plan for the SRP.

Environmentalists, for example, may lobby to make sustainable development a guiding principle for the plan.

(khanwens@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 27, 2014.

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