Better planning sought before underpass projects can be implemented

REGIONAL Development Council (RDC) 7 officials yesterday denied blocking underpass projects proposed by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), but they wants these implemented in sequence so the public will not suffer.

In a press conference, RDC 7 Chairman Kenneth Cobonpue and RDC’s Infrastructure Development Committee (IDC) Chairman Glenn Soco said they disapproved two underpass projects and asked for feasibility studies on three others.

The two underpass projects that were not endorsed were supposed to be located from D. Jakosalem St. to Talamban with a length of 8.2 kilometers; and from Sergio Osmena St. to Salinas Drive in Mabolo with a length of 3.5 kilometers, both in Cebu City.

The other three underpass projects endorsed for a feasibility study were the ones on Cardinal Rosales Ave. and F. Cabahug St. in Cebu City to Hernan Cortes St. in Mandaue City, with a length 2.5 kilometers; the junction of M.J. Cuenco and Gen. Maxilom Ave. in Barangay Careta, Cebu City; and the junction of Gorordo Ave. and Doña Modesta Gaisano St. in Lahug, Cebu City.

Cobonpue said we should learn a lesson from the ongoing underpass project on N. Bacalso Ave. in Mambaling, Cebu City where heavy traffic is experienced daily because the DPWH 7 failed to acquire the road right-of-way that could have served as a detour while the project is being built.

“The heavy traffic caused by the N. Bacalso Ave. underpass project really just added to our concerns that maybe, not doing anything as of this moment on other proposed underpass projects may cause the people to suffer further,” Soco said.

“We are only transmitting what the experts have provided us, and we are guided by the master plan,” he added.

Cobonpue, for his part, said experts even told them that the two flyovers in the Bantal (Banilad and Talamban) area will not solve traffic because it appears that the two lanes were just transferred from the road to the bridge over it.

The two furnished the media with a copy of the summary report of Dr. Katsuhide Nagamayama of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) to Gov. Hilario Davide III regarding the Metro Cebu Road Map for Sustainable Urban Development.

On the specific sections of the road map study, particularly on “Mitigation Measures for Traffic Bottlenecks,” Jica recommended four measures to address on 20 intersections, beginning with the less capital-intensive to the more capital-intensive interventions.

These are the traffic management improvement section, like modification of geometric signals and traffic signals; area traffic control, like synchronized traffic signals and area-wide traffic control system; grade separation like underpass or flyover using rapid construction method to minimize impact on road traffic; and road widening.

Soco said that Jica suggested full implementation of less capital-intensive and institutional measures in the years leading up to 2020, including traffic management improvement by section and area traffic control.

Cobonpue and Soco said that DPWH 7 Director Ador Canlas, who has not attended any RDC and IDC meeting this year, should have been replaced because he is overstaying.

They also said that DPWH Secretary Mark Villar is aware of the situation, but Canlas got the signatures of eight Cebuano lawmakers to endorse that he be allowed to stay.

“There has to be a change in the way things are done, at least in the RDC level. There is merit in why President Rodrigo Duterte appointed a chairman (Cobonpue) who is not a politician, and private sector representatives to head the sectoral committees,” Soco said. “We are not in government but we would like to work and help the government.” (EOB)


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