GAPS on the viaduct of the Cebu South Coastal Road are the result of a “slight” damage caused by the earthquake last Oct. 15, 2013, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) 7 said yesterday.

Engineer Nonato Paylado, chief of the DPWH 7 Planning and Designs Division, said that when the magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck, some parts of the expansion joints fell, creating a gap on the viaduct’s expansion joints.

The gap is wide enough for a passing motorist to see the water underneath.

But while it seems dangerous to those passing through the viaduct, no repairs were made in the last three years because the gaps are within the allowable limit.

“From the point of view of a layman, he will fear that it will affect the bridge. Actually, it is still within the allowable limit,” Paylado said.

Speaking during the 888 News Forum at the Marco Polo Plaza yesterday, Paylado said that some of the angular bars of the expansion joints and some of the wires connecting the lampposts at the viaduct had been stolen.

In an earlier interview, he said that some angular bars that had been welded to the joints had detached also because of wear and tear.

He said, though, that the viaduct was already inspected even before photos of the gaps circulated on the social networking site Facebook over the weekend.

The inspection was done by the agency’s Bridge Management Inspection (BMS) team, which checks bridges and similar infrastructure annually.

Following the public concern on the state of the viaduct’s expansion joints, Paylado said that the DPWH Cebu City Engineering District immediately started the repair last Sunday, which may continue for another one week or longer, depending on the weather.

He said that as agreed with the Cebu City Traffic Office (CCTO), the repairs will be done from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. to avoid traffic congestion on the viaduct and the coastal road.

“We will continue to do the repair until the gaps in the expansion joints will be covered,” Paylado said.

He said that based on the viaduct design, the structure has continuous spans, though not continuous through and through. It has a total of 43 spans, with eight segments.

He said that there are spans that are fixed to the pier structure so that if there is any movement, all the six spans in the Cebu City’s side of the viaduct will move at the same time.

The expansion joints allow movement of the bridge due to thermal factors and external activities like earthquakes.

“Way back in 2013, if we recall we had this earthquake and Cebu has been affected, prompting us to inspect the viaduct and all the bridges, for that matter,” Paylado said.

“We conducted inspection and it was assessed during that time this gap in the expansion joints was brought to the attention of the public. We conducted the assessment and it was found out that the structure was still within the allowable limit,” Paylado said.

Paylado said the gap that a motorist complained about on Facebook is the same gap they previously checked and found not to be in an alarming state, but they repaired it anyway to allay the fears of the public.