Green light for Osmeña Blvd. sidewalk improvement

File photo
File photo

THE Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (CBRT) project management team has received the green light from the Capitol to proceed with the sidewalk developments along Osmeña Blvd., portions of which are titled to the Cebu Provincial Government.

However, Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia and other Provincial Government officials maintained their disapproval of the design of the bus station to be built in front of the Capitol building.

In a text message to SunStar Cebu on Wednesday, May 1, 2024, CBRT project manager Norvin Imbong said they had presented to the provincial officials their plans to develop the sidewalks along Osmeña Blvd. as part of the CBRT project.

Imbong said they will put up street lights, perimeter lights and paver blocks to improve the sidewalks.

The Capitol announced on social media Tuesday, April 30, that the sidewalks stretching from the Capitol area down to the Fuente Osmeña Rotunda are titled under the Provincial Government.

“We are seeking their approval to continue these works, and we did get their approval,” said Imbong.

The Capitol said Provincial Board Members Red Duterte, Jerome Librando and Kerrie Shimura would sponsor a resolution supporting the beautification of the sidewalk.

As for the bus station in front of the Capitol building, whose construction was suspended by Garcia in February, Imbong said it was discussed briefly during their meeting but the officials’ stand remained that it should not block the view of the Capitol building.

The governor has complained that the large leaf design of the intended Capitol bus station would obstruct the view of the pre-war era Capitol building.

Whether a new design will be sought, however, Imbong said there was no decision yet from the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

Suspend

Garcia issued a memorandum last Feb. 27 ordering Hunan Road and Bridge Construction Group Ltd. to stop construction of the bus station in front of the Capitol building.

In the memorandum, Garcia said the Capitol discovered that the project’s proponents lacked authorization from the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) for the construction of the bus stations along Osmeña Blvd.

She said the CBRT project may be within the buffer zones of the Capitol building and the Fuente Osmeña Rotunda, both of which could qualify as heritage zones.

Thus, the construction work potentially violated the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009, which mandates the protection of structures older than 50 years, and requires any construction within designated buffer zones to acquire NHCP authorization, she said.

Following the meeting of the DOTr with the NHCP and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts last April 2 in Manila, Imbong previously said the central office would hire a contractor to undertake the heritage impact assessment.

In the meantime, angered at the governor’s Feb. 27 memorandum, which he said showed her “meddling” in a Cebu City project, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama filed an administrative case against Garcia before the Office of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. last March 20 for abuse of authority, oppression and grave misconduct, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, and violation of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees and the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. Rama asked Marcos to “discipline and suspend Governor Garcia.”

Rama railed at Garcia’s “afterthought” that the CBRT seemed to be located within the buffer zones of heritage zones, saying that before the CBRT construction, there were pine trees on the center islands of Osmeña Blvd. that were of the same height “or even taller than the aesthetic canopies of the CBRT Project which undoubtedly covered or blocked the view” of the Capitol for decades and yet Garcia did not object to these.

Work goes on

The construction for Package 1 of the 35.28-kilometer mass transportation system goes on and may still be completed in a couple of months. Package 1 is intended to have four bus stations: the Capitol, Fuente, Cebu Normal University and Cebu South Bus Terminal (CSBT) stations. Work continues on the latter two stations.

The P28.78 billion project, to be completed in 2027, is divided into four packages.

Package 1 covers the route from Osmeña Blvd. to the CSBT (2.38 kilometers); Package 2, route from the South Road Properties (SRP), Barangay Mambaling, to Escario St., Capitol and Gorordo Ave. (10.8 km); Package 3, routes from the Cebu IT Park to Barangay Talamban and from the SRP to Talisay City.

Package 4 will feature a dedicated lane from Barangays Bulacao to Mambaling, extension of the alignment from Ayala to Cebu IT Park, a rotunda underneath the Mambaling flyover, and the conversion of a mixed traffic lane along the coastal road at the SRP and F. Vestil St.

The CBRT project is expected to cater to 60,000 passengers daily in its first year of operation, and up to 160,000 passengers once fully operational, according to the DOTr. / JJL

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