TRAFFIC managers are studying a plan to limit the first Mandaue-Mactan Bridge to one-way traffic, for 11 hours at a time, as they search for ways to shorten people’s trips.
The plan is to let vehicles going to Mandaue use the bridge from 1 a.m. to 12 noon, while those going to Lapu-Lapu will get their turn from 1 p.m. to midnight.
As of yesterday, both lanes of the bridge remained open to traffic while the repairs were done on the sidewalks. While this prevented a repeat of the “horrendous” traffic observed last Tuesday, it’s not likely the arrangement can last when the repairs move to the bridge lanes.
The proposal to use shifts is still being studied.
If it works, then that will be the scheme until the bridge repairs are completed, said Frank Brazil, chief of the City Traffic Management System (CTMS) in Lapu-Lapu City.
Officials of both Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu still have to meet and decide on what scheme to adopt.
Florentino Nimor, executive director of the Traffic Enforcement Agency of Mandaue (Team), confirmed that the shifting schedule was one of the plans.
It is a variation on the original plan, which was to limit traffic on that bridge to vehicles going to Lapu-Lapu City, where the airport is located, while the repairs are ongoing.
Complaints from commuters and drivers who got stuck for up to two hours near or on the bridge prompted traffic officials and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to open the structure to two-way traffic yesterday.
The traffic situation in Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu was “back to normal.”
However, traffic remained heavier than usual on United Nations Ave. in Mandaue, which is the road connected to the Marcelo Fernan Bridge. Under the original plan, only this bridge would be open to those going to Mandaue from Mactan Island.
Traffic was so bad last Tuesday, however, that officials from Cebu City and various agencies proposed reviving barge and ferry services between the two islands, in order to give commuters a way to avoid the gridlocked roads.
In a meeting last Tuesday, DPWH, officials of Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu, and other government agencies agreed to open both lanes of the first Mandaue-Mactan bridge for a week, while only the bridge’s sidewalks are under repair.
Around 8 a.m. yesterday, Brazil said, there was no traffic congestion in the areas going to the Mandaue-Mactan Bridge and Marcelo Fernan Bridge.
In Mandaue, Glenn Antigua, chief for operations of Team, said traffic flow was smooth on UN Ave. Past 8 a.m., no major road was congested.
Antigua said that having a schedule for vehicles to cross the first bridge is the “best option” for now.
However, Antigua said they will make changes, after observing the number of vehicles using both bridges.
Chief Insp. Noel Lomente, head of the Mandaue City Police Office-Traffic Management Unit, said they did not receive report about a road accident yesterday morning. (There was one last night. See related story, A1.)
Lomente said they will continue to deploy their police officers to help Team manage traffic, especially on UN Ave., A.C. Cortes Ave. and other priority areas where there are road repairs.
Meanwhile, the DPWH urged the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) to strengthen its support for its 400-mm-diameter pipelines along Mandaue-Mactan Bridge.
Otherwise, officials warned, it could collapse while the bridge is under repair.
The pipeline brings 12,000 cubic meters of water to households and commercial establishments in Lapu-Lapu City and Cordova town every day or about 60 percent of the water supply in Mactan Island.
“As far as our assessment is concerned, the support that they (MCWD) placed there is not enough once they demolish the deck slabs,” said DPWH 7 Director Ador Canlas.
He said that the MCWD pipeline was placed under the sidewalk of the bridge.
Canlas gave MCWD until tomorrow to come up with a support plan, otherwise, he said, the agency will cancel all excavation permits it issued to the water utility firm.
In a statement, MCWD said it is “one with all stakeholders in ensuring the immediate and fast rehabilitation” of the Mandaue-Mactan Bridge.
MCWD said that in a meeting last Nov. 5, 2015, when DPWH first informed the water utility firm that the bridge repair was about to start, MCWD no longer had time to bid out a project to rehabilitate the pipe support.
To hasten MCWD’s response to the problem, the water district asked DPWH 7’s project contractor for the bridge repair, Jegma Construction and Development Corp., to handle the pipe support project as well.
“It was MCWD’s intention to synchronize the pipe support project with the bridge rehabilitation so as not to cause any delay or add to the traffic congestion if both projects will be implemented by two groups. We had the public’s interest when we asked DPWH’s contractor to do the project as well,” said MCWD General Manager Noel Dalena.
MCWD made the project design and submitted the proposal to Jegma Construction last Dec. 12, 2015 and regularly asked for updates by phone “in the absence of a written reply from the contractor.”
Representatives of Jegma Construction reportedly asked MCWD to wait for their feedback since they had to refer the project proposal to their Manila office.
MCWD, in its statement, said that Jegma Construction representatives informed the water district only last Tuesday, Feb. 9, that they could not handle the pipe support project.
In accordance with government procurement procedures, MCWD, a government-owned and controlled corporation, needs to bid out the project, a process that could take months.