THE removal of the skywalk near the Cebu Normal University (CNU) and the one near Fuente Osmeña along Osmeña Blvd. will continue this week.
Cebu City Councilor Jerry Guardo, committee on infrastructure chairman, said the two structures should be gone before Dec. 25, 2023, Christmas Day.
Guardo said they held a multi-sectoral coordination meeting on Tuesday morning, Dec. 12 to come up with a comprehensive plan to expedite the operation.
The skywalks straddle the ongoing construction of the first package of the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (CBRT) project, which covers a distance of 2.38 kilometers from the Cebu South Bus Terminal along N. Bacalso Ave. to the front of the Capitol building along Osmeña Blvd.
“Hoping with this concerted effort, maybe the transfer and removal operations will be faster and quicker. If before it would take them four to five days, maybe now, four or three days or earlier,” Guardo said.
A team started dismantling the roof, ceiling and some railings of the skywalk near CNU on Friday, Dec. 8. However, later that night, City Hall’s executive department ordered a stop to the operations.
Guardo said they initially planned to salvage the skywalks and relocate these somewhere at the South Road Properties (SRP), as ordered by Mayor Michael Rama. However, doing so while preserving the integrity of the structures would be more costly and time-consuming, possibly taking at least 15 days for each skywalk.
The councilor said they decided to demolish the skywalks and salvage whatever portions might be deemed useful. They will construct footbridges at the SRP instead.
He said the Cebu City Transportation Office will be releasing a new traffic plan.
He assured the public that the entire stretch of Osmeña Blvd. will not be closed to traffic all at once during the demolition.
He said they will concentrate on one skywalk at a time.
The demolition of the two skywalks was delayed for several months due to ownership concerns.
The Department of Public Works and Highways, which oversees the construction of nationally funded projects, finally transferred ownership to the Cebu City Government on Nov. 6.
Cebu City North District Rep. Rachel “Cutie” del Mar had opposed the demolition, pointing out that the skywalks, which were projects of the late deputy speaker Raul del Mar, her father, benefited students and pedestrians.
She suggested integrating the structures into the CBRT, but proponents argued against redesign costs, adding that the project already includes pedestrian crossings.
Built 30 years ago, the skywalks cost an estimated P9 million.
Mayor Rama recently ordered the contractor to immediately remove the skywalks after he discovered that organizers of the processions for the Fiesta Señor 2024 decided to bypass Osmeña Blvd.
He hopes that with the skywalks gone, organizers will keep the original routes for the Penitential Walk with Jesus, Walk with Mary and the Solemn Foot Procession.