THE proposed Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Line 7 project got the nod of Metro Manila mayors, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said Wednesday.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said the Sectoral Committee on Infrastructure Development of the Regional Development Council for the National Capital Region (RDC-NCR) approved the endorsement of the MRT 7 project.

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The approval took place during a meeting of the Committee chaired by its head, Valenzuela Mayor Sherwin Gatchalian on August 13, 2010 at the MMDA office in Makati city.

The RDC is composed of the 17 city and municipal mayors in Metro Manila and the secretaries and heads of national government line agencies in Metro Manila and sectoral committees as members, among others.

The US$1.2 billion MRT 7 project will be the fourth rail rapid transit line to be built in Metro Manila.

When completed, the line will be 22-km long with 14 stations, and will be operated by the Universal LRT Corporation (ULC) under a Built-Gradual Transfer-Operate- and-Maintain scheme.

During the meeting, Joel Magbanua, who represented the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) said that the 14 terminals have already been identified.

However, it maybe subject to change during the preparation of the detailed design which will also be approved by the concerned local government units.

The line will run in a northeast direction, traversing Quezon City and part of Kalookan City in Metro Manila before ending at the City of San Jose del Monte in Bulacan province.

Passengers will be able to transfer to the Yellow Line and Blue Line through the Metro Manila Integrated Rail Terminal that will link the three lines at North Avenue in Quezon City.

The project will provide rail transportation from Bocaue Exit of the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) to the intersection of North Avenue and Edsa and a 22-km 6-lane highway road that will connect the NLEX to San Jose del Monte.

The mostly elevated MRT will start from there and end at the integrated station beside SM City North Edsa.

The project will traverse the center island to avoid displacement of settlers.

Tolentino said the construction period is expected to last three and half years.

At the same time, the MMDA said it is reviewing the traffic management plan to ensure smooth flow of traffic during construction.

Tolentino said the project is an affirmation of public-private sector partnership in attaining development for the country.

"The government cannot solve all the problems alone, especially with the huge budget deficit we are facing. The local government units and the line agencies should transcend the limits of territorial boundaries and be innovative enough to help one another," he added.

Earlier, the RDC-NCR deferred the implementation of the mass transit system to allow for a more thorough discussion among the stakeholders and the local government units.

This after the Valenzuela mayor and his Quezon City counterpart wanted that local government units will pick the locations of terminals in their jurisdictions.

Environmental enforcers

The MMDA is also eyeing for the revival of environmental enforcers to strengthen the agency's drive against litterbugs in the metropolis.

MMDA Assistant General Manager for Planning and Operations Cora Cruz said the agency would deploy the environmental enforcers to catch violators including drivers of public and private vehicles who continue to disregard the law.

"Sa loob po ng dalawang linggo ay idedeploy na natin itong mga environmental enforcers sa iba't-ibang bahagi ng Metro Manila para lalo pang palakasin ang kampanya laban sa littering," Cruz said in an interview Wednesday.

According to Cruz, part of the agency's anti-littering campaign is to revive an ordinance passed several years ago by the Metro Manila Council (MMC) in which violators are issued a ticket.

"For a time kasi parang nakalimutan na ang anti-littering law lalo na yung nilalagay sa alarm list ng NBI ang mga violators na hindi inaayos ang kanilang tiket so iyun ang ating tinitingnan ngayon na i-revive at palakasin pa," Cruz said.

Cruz added that MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino has already directed to review the existing MMDA ordinances on anti-littering so that it can be enforced more strictly.

The MMDA would also get the support of the local government units (LGU) in the campaign.

Earlier, the agency aired its support for a proposal raised by environment watchdog EcoWaste Coalition to use its 50 closed-circuit television cameras (CCTVs) positioned at key sections of the metropolis to catch litterbugs.

MMDA General Manager Robert Nacianceno said they are still studying the proposal because they need to identify the agency responsible for actually apprehending the litterbugs.

Littering is an environmental offense under Section 48 of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, which prohibits the dumping of waste matters in public places such as roads, sidewalks, canals, esteros, parks and establishments.

Violators upon conviction can be fined between P300 and P1,000 and render community service of up to 15 days. (AH/Sunnex)