AdDU presents alternative solutions to DPWH to spare trees

Contributed photo

TO PREVENT tree cutting in front of their Matina Campus, the Ateneo de Davao Universtiy (AdDU) Physical Plant Office has earlier suggested alternatives for the Department of Public Works and Highway (DPWH)-Davao in relation to their proposed 405-meter Ma-a Junction flyover project along McArthur highway that may potentially result in road widening and other road improvements.

In an online dialogue between AdDU, City Traffic Transportation Management (CTTMO) and DPWH last October 14, they discussed the proposed plan on the flyover and the areas by the side of the road that may be affected by the said infrastructure project.

The Ma-a Junction flyover is a P1-billion project still undergoing feasibility study until February 2021. According to Engr. Teofila Tan, DPWH Davao Region Planning and Design Division chief, there were two releases of the fund: (1) P400 million, half of which will be used for the acquisition of road right of way and the other half for the civil works or the widening of the road component; and (2) P600 million for the initial construction of the flyover. Additional funding may come from the 2021 budget.

Including the approaches, the entire flyover actually measures 685 meters, with the flyover bridge measuring 405 meters. It will stretch from the section of the road near Malayan Colleges of Mindanao to a section of the road near Davao City Water District.

Anticipating heavy flow of traffic with the construction of the flyover, DPWH will be implementing road improvements such as road widening, curb, gutter, and sidewalk construction, center island removal, laybay construction in front of Ateneo and the University of Mindanao, minor drainage structure construction, and many others.

The initial plan presented by Tan to University president Fr. Joel Tabora and AdDU Physical Plant Office head Engr. Florian Remolino included construction of a laybay in front of Ateneo Matina Campus. This laybay construction would need to get rid of the first row of the old trees planted along the sidewalk outside the school. Tan, however, clarified that the second row of the trees, planted inside the fence, will not be affected by the proposed laybay construction.

Aside from the laybay in front of the school, CTTMO presented Ateneo with two other options July this year which is to have an "offstreet laybay across Acacia Street," and "offstreet loading and unloading bay across Acacia Street, from Gate 10 that would exit to McArthur Highway."

All three options were declined by Fr. Tabora, saying these are "not safe, not healthy, and environmentally objectionable."

Based on the design, fully-grown trees will also be cut.

"The technical working group came up with the declination of the given three options by the following reasons: the disadvantages outweigh the advantages, measures have already been put in place by the Ateneo Matina Campus to lessen the traffic, including the construction of the Car Park Building. Measures were based on a scientific study and survey by the School of Engineering and Architecture...Its impact also puts environment, health and safety, and security at a disadvantage," said Engr. Remolino during the online dialogue.

He also added that based on their observation, there is still heavy traffic at particular times of the day in front of the school even during the pandemic when they do not hold classes. This, he said, only shows that traffic along that portion of the road is not only because of the school.

Instead of the laybay construction in front of Ateneo which will put the old trees at risk, Remolino instead gave the following proposed measures:

* Construction of an overpass between Ateneo and MTS

* Rerouting scheme of vehicles to Quimpo Boulevard during flyover construction from the southern part to Quimpo Boulevard (during flyover construction)

* Nighttime construction of the flyover, so as not to implement road closure during daytime

* Stricter implementation of "No parking" along Acacia St. from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Apprehend parents and guardians who do not comply with the rule.

Remolino is firm that these recommendations may be helpful without having to compromise the old trees, which according to the Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (IDIS) is around 60 to 70 years old already. He said they do not want another Clifford Park incident happening again. It can be recalled that October last year, trees along Roxas St. were cut to give way to the Clifford Park improvement much to the dismay of the Dabawenyos. Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio apologized shortly after.

In an interview with One Mindanao, DPWH-Davao spokesperson Dean Ortiz said as the project is still undergoing feasibility study, they have taken all factors into consideration including its potential impact on the environment.

"Isa sa gina-applyan sa DPWH is ECC or Environmental Compliance Certification or Certificate of Non-Coverage from DENR, whichever is applicable. We can assure everyone that we will get the necessary permits before we embark on any project which will require us to replace the said trees kung kinahanglanon," said Ortiz.

It can be recalled that environmental groups opposed this on November 27 and insisted on reconsideration of the plan. The mayor backed them up, saying the city will assist them in bridging their protest to concerned agencies involved in the project.

"Yes, we support the call na di putlon ang kahoy and pangitaan og pamaagi via engineering solution nga naa gihapon ang project pero naa gihapon ang kahoy (Yes, we support the call on not cutting down these trees and look for other ways via engineering solutions where we do not have to cut the trees)," she said.


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