House presses DPWH for solutions to Metro Manila woes

METRO Manila has become notorious for its heavy traffic. AFP PHOTO

MEMBERS of the House Committee on Metro Manila Development have asked the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to come up with better and more revolutionary infrastructure ideas to address major concerns of Metro Manila and its surrounding areas.

The committee chaired by Rep. Winston “Winnie” Castelo (2nd District, Quezon City) aired the sentiments during a recent DPWH briefing on its priority plans and projects in Metro Manila in line with the government’s National Development Plans and Goals.

“We hope the DPWH would be able to find a better solution, especially to the traffic congestion problem, instead of just building additional roads which could also create bottlenecks at the end since some projects are still undergoing feasibility study,” said Castelo.

Revolutionary ideas

Rep. Manuel Luis Lopez (1st District, Manila) raised some concerns on the heavy build-up of vehicles from nearby cities going to Manila.

“The increase in the number of vehicles is not commensurate with the number of infrastructures. Hopefully the DPWH, with the help of the committee, can think of revolutionary ideas that would fit into the demands of a megalopolis,” said Lopez.

Lopez also inquired how the DPWH intends to address traffic at the Port Area in Manila. According to DPWH Undersecretary for Planning and Public-Private Partnership Services Maria Catalina Cabral, there are ongoing efforts to maximize the use of ports located in Subic and Batangas to address the problem.

NLEX segment 10

Former Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman now Rep. Bayani Fernando (1st District, Marikina City) proposed to the DPWH to find other intersections instead of putting all of the new roads in a certain area.

The presentation of DPWH officials led by Cabral and DPWH NCR Regional Director Melvin Navarro tackled current developments on infrastructure projects, particularly the Segment 10 of the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) Harbour Link Project. The 5.65-kilometere project connects McArthur Highway and C-3.

The road will decongest Metro Manila by providing access to NLEX without passing through EDSA or the Balintawak Toll Plaza.

In the Makati City area, a vehicle underpass along the innermost lanes of Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue passing through the Makati Avenue and Paseo de Roxas is already on schedule to help decongest traffic in the intersections of the said areas. The P1-billion project is just awaiting the excavation permit from the Local Government.

Feasibility study

As to the P2.43-billion España Interchange Project, this has been scheduled for January 2018.

It is currently undergoing feasibility study and revision of design from third level to second level flyover along Gov. Forbes Street from Alcantara Street crossing Fajardo, Loyola, Laong Laan Streets and España Boulevard. It also involves the construction of a down ramp along Dimasalang Street and is expected to be finished by October 2019.

Meanwhile, four major interchanges are included in the Phase 6 of the Metro Manila Interchange Construction Project. These are: North Avenue to West Avenue Interchange; North Avenue to Mindanao Interchange; C-5, Greenmeadows, Acropolis and Calle Industria Interchange; and the Roosevelt to Congressional Avenue Interchange scheduled for December 2017 to October 2019.

SLEX connector road

Other priority projects of the DPWH are the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) – South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) Connector Road which is an eight-kilometer four-lane expressway from C-3 Road in Caloocan City to Santa Mesa Manila.

The proposed project is expected to reduce travel time between NLEX and SLEX to 15 to 20 minutes and will benefit 35,000 motorists per day. It will start in September 2018 yet since the DPWH is still finalizing agreements with the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB), which be discussed with the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

The Phase 1 of the Southeast Metro Manila Expressway (SEMME) has already started and is expected to be finished by August 2020. The 34-km project is a combination of mostly at-grade and elevated expressway, composed of six lanes, stretching from Skyway FTI, Parañaque City to Batasan, Quezon City.