Sunday Essays: The problem with overpasses

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Saturday, July 12, 2014

ROADS are common places for accidents. For a big city like Davao, a growing population does not help reduce these mishaps. According to Ricardo Sigua, an affiliate from UP National Center for Transportation Studies, the most vulnerable user group or those that are prone to road accidents are innocent pedestrians.

How does Davao prevent these tragedies from happening? One word: Overpasses.

Currently we have over 10 overpasses located in different areas in Davao City. These large infrastructures that are built high off the ground across roads are solely made for pedestrians in order for them to safely cross busy streets. Over the years, these overpasses have served the people well and have saved lives especially children and older adults. However, nowadays, a lot of people ignore these infrastructures and continue to cross streets without pedestrian lanes endangering both their lives as well as the drivers’. But why are these people carelessly ignoring something so useful?

The overpass in Matina in front of the University of Mindanao, although still standing, has clearly been neglected. It has been standing for years but people have not used it because of the foul smell.

Its main purpose was to help students from UM to cross safely to the other side without the risk of getting hit by vehicles since Matina has been known for road accidents as well. However, the overpass itself is a threat because of the dangers it brings every night.

By nightfall the only light that illuminates the infrastructure comes from the streetlights on the road. Traffic enforcers have put railings beside the streets so people can no longer cross the road carelessly. Now, students have to either endure the smell or walk on the other block just to get to the other side.

Another seemingly disregarded overpass is located at Victoria Plaza, Bajada. Other citizens have complained of the fetid odor on that bridge. Because it’s not used, some people have used it as their toilet, leaving a horrible smell. Not only does it smell inside the bridge but also at the foot of the bridge where an array of stores are.

At the overpass in Gaisano Mall, although still decent, some people still choose to cross the road down below. This is because small stores have taken over most of the footpath. Others have placed cots and chairs to sit on while waiting for customers. Because of the stores lined up from edge to edge and people crowding in some areas, the passage has become narrower. Now pedestrians choose to cross the roads the risky way rather than experience the hassle that climbing overpasses bring.

These bridges were initially built for us to avoid traffic and to safely cross roads. The problem with overpasses is the untidiness. The bridges lack maintenance. Efforts of the government to protect pedestrians from road accidents are in some way a failed attempt since they do not always use these overpasses. Who would want to walk through a stinking path, often crowded and dirty?

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