Circumferential road

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Monday, August 25, 2014


I FIRST heard of talks about a circumferential road in the early ‘90s when I was still with the Cebu City Hall beat when Tomas Osmeña was mayor.

That road was to have been built from Pardo to Talamban passing mostly the sides of the mountain range overlooking the city’s plains.

I could not forget that because when Osmeña showed the plan to reporters, I erred in thinking that it would go straight to Talisay and lead to the construction of another bridge spanning the Mananga river.

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The Cebu City circumferential road plan was actually part of Metro Cebu Development Project (MCDP)-Phase III, which also included the South Reclamation Project (later renamed the South Road Properties or SRP) and the construction of the Cebu South Coastal Road. To recall, MCDP has given us many worthwhile projects, like the widening of major roads.

The circumferential road plan, however, was not realized because it was excluded in the loan package for MCDP III primarily because of the big cost of only the SRP and the coastal road. That was unfortunate because I thought the road would have helped ease the city’s traffic situation.

Now another circumferential road is being mulled by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). This is still subject to an P80-million “feasibility study” to be conducted by the consultancy firm Cedco.

This circumferential road project will not be limited to Cebu City but will connect the southern part of Metro Cebu (possibly starting in Naga City) to Danao City. The three options being looked into are: keeping the road close to the urban areas of Metro Cebu, applying the 1993 plan wherein the Pardo to Talamban route is partly used, and building the road far from the urban areas.

We don’t know what option will prevail, but what is non-debatable is that, like what the MCDP projects did years ago, the circumferential road will solve many of the current problems related to travel. On this, one can just look at the present south coastal road (I say “present” because I don’t know what will happen once SM operates at the SRP).

Before the coastal road was opened, people have been complaining about the traffic choke point in Barangay Tabunok in Talisay City. To solve the problem, Capitol under then governor Emilio Osmeña built a flyover there. The traffic situation improved only a little bit.

But with the coastal road, traffic volume in Tabunok lessened considerably. Private vehicles now prefer to use the coastal road going to and from the south, bypassing a stretch of the south highway. Traffic congestion still occurs in Tabunok, but this is more because of the incompetence of the traffic managers in Talisay City.

By the way, why is the Talisay City Government continuing to allow trisikads to roam that stretch of the national highway? I think this is the only stretch where buses, private vehicles, multicabs, motorcycles, tricycles, trisikads and people compete for
the use of the road, especially at the ends of the flyover. But I am digressing.

What I am saying is that improving the traffic situation especially in Cebu City is not only about widening roads or constructing flyovers. Creating new roads where these are feasible can be another solution. Road-right-of-way problems are lesser if the planned new road is well mapped out.

Land is cheaper where a road is still to be opened, unlike when a road already exists and is being widened later.

That’s what makes the circumferential road plan compelling.

(khanwens@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 26, 2014.

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