CEBU City Councilor Joy Pesquera’s threat to sue the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) if the underpass project along N. Bacalso Ave. won’t ease traffic congestion in the area is interesting not because it can be legally won—she will surely find difficulty if that is the goal. What makes it interesting is that it will put the focus on the project’s viability once it is completed.
The area where the underpass is being constructed is an intersection near two malls and a branch of a fastfood chain. While traffic there builds up during peak hours, the area is not known to have caused lengthy traffic jams when south district Rep. Rodrigo Abellanosa pushed for its construction. One wonders why this has to be pinpointed as the project site.
If traffic in the intersection was not that bad before, there is no reason it would turn bad with the use of the underpass once it is built. Also, with the underpass, vehicles going south would no longer have to stop at that intersection to allow vehicles turning left or right to pass. That would mean a freer flow of traffic there.
The better question is not whether the underpass would ease the traffic congestion in the area but whether the cost of its construction is equivalent to the magnitude of the problem it is supposed to solve. How big was the traffic “problem” in the area to merit the construction of a multi-million-peso structure?
The problem with projects pushed by the DPWH and lawmakers or done by local government units is that these are not often in keeping with a traffic master plan. Worse, if there is even no traffic master plan to begin with. We have seen that in the “golden era” of skywalks when these structures sprouted even in places where these are not needed, thus their disuse.
There should be a way to penalize officials who come up with projects on a whim or, worse, just to get commissions without considering the overall need of their constituents or their feasibility. Worse is when something like the underpass project happens: implemented without a clear traffic diversion plan, causing enormous inconvenience to people daily.