• Build EDSA skyway to ease MM’s traffic nightmare

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    THE horrendous traffic gridlock that Metro Manila commuters are experiencing this Yuletide season underscores the urgent need for the Aquino administration to expand Metro Manila’s road network and decongest our clogged roadways.

    One of the road projects that ought to have been implemented by the Aquino administration was the construction of a tunnel or skyway along the busiest road in the country: the 22-kilometer long Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (Edsa).

    We recall that sometime in 2011, during the early years of the Aquino administration, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson unveiled a government plan to construct an “elevated” or a “tunnel” expressway along Edsa that will stretch from Roxas Boulevard in Pasay City to Monumento in Caloocan City.

    Dubbed the “New EDSA,” the tunnel or skyway would have six lanes, garnering an initial funding of P50-billion through Official Development Assistance (ODA) from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) or the Public and Private Partnership (PPP) program.

    Senate President Franklin Drilon, who was then chairman of the Senate committee on finance, said the project would be the “ultimate solution to the hell that we go through every time we pass by Edsa.”

    Many experts agree that a skyway or tunnel along Edsa will greatly ease the flow of traffic throughout the metropolis. That’s because this circa-1954 highway is the backbone of Metro Manila. Putting up a skyway or tunnel expressway along Edsa will, in theory, cut vehicular traffic in half.

    Historically and by design, the urbanization of Metro Manila spreads outward from EDSA. If you will notice, the country’s major business districts (like those in Ortigas and Makati) as well as prime commercial and residential areas are all within walking distance from Edsa.

    Even now, lots along Edsa are the still choice location of property developers for their malls and condominium projects. That is to be expected since Edsa is the only thoroughfare in Metro Manila that connects several major cities, namely: Caloocan, Quezon City, Pasig, Mandaluyong, Makati, and Pasay.

    However, for one reason or another, the “New Edsa” project was quickly shelved by the Aquino administration in 2012. In its place, PNoy launched the NLEX-SLEX Connector Road Projects of two of the biggest (and well-connected) business conglomerates in the country – San Miguel Corporation (SMC) and the Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC).

    According to PNoy, the connector road projects will decongest Edsa. Traffic management engineers and ordinary motorists all agree that that isn’t going to happen.

    MPIC and SMC’s connector roads won’t have much impact on the Edsa gridlock because they’re all concentrated on the west corridor of Edsa. True, those travelling from SLEX to NLEX and vice-versa will have it much easier. But experts say these constitute a small percentage of the 2.4 million vehicles that pass through Edsa every single day.

    Studies have shown that the bulk of the vehicles plying Edsa are those that travel east-west rather than north-south. For instance, people working in the Makati central business district but living in the Commonwealth area will have to pass through Edsa to get home. In the same way, those in the eastern section of Metro Manila like Cainta have to take Edsa if they want to go to Buendia, for example.

    Building a skyway or tunnel in Edsa with strategic off-ramps on both sides will open up an alternative east-west transportation corridor and significantly reduce the congestion in Metro Manila’s main circumferential artery.

    But we’re sure the Edsa skyway project will have a lot of opponents.

    For one, the ‘influential’ owners of the big malls, shopping centers, condominiums and office buildings along Edsa won’t be too happy seeing their properties (and property values) dwarfed by an elevated expressway. Meanwhile, residents of the exclusive villages and gated communities in the periphery of Edsa will definitely complain about the loss of privacy from a high-rise skyway.

    There are also those who argue that an Edsa skyway will only breed more cars on the road. But isn’t the purpose of constructing new roads to accommodate the inevitable growth in vehicle numbers?

    Besides, isn’t it quite hypocritical of the government to let Filipino commuters suffer the daily traffic nightmare while at the same time encouraging foreign car manufacturers (like Ford, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Honda, etc.) to invest, stay and sell cars in the country, most of which will end up in Metro Manila’s jammed roadways?

    As it is, the cost of traffic in Metro Manila is around P2.4-billion per day or P876-billion every year based on a recent study by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

    Constructing the P50-billion Edsa skyway or tunnel is still significantly cheaper than what Filipino commuters are losing in terms of fuel, transport and other economic costs. This, however, requires political will – a rare commodity nowadays, especially with an administration unwilling to displease its friends and allies.

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    8 Comments

    1. As Jose puts it very well, the answer is a mass transit system, not ever more roads for ever more cars. The problem is that the rich have to rub shoulders with the poor in public transport, whereas the car insulates them from both the masses and the air polution their cars contribute to.

    2. One way to decongest EDSA is to fix C-5 so it can be maximized to the hilt. Right there is traffic in the C-5 Kalayaan Ave.area because the elevated U-turns that MMDA built i 2009 under the Arroyo administration. It has a design flaw that impeded traffic flow. I was told that there was already funding from ADB to build a flyover along Kalayaan Ave. with left turns to C-5. But then MMDA Chairman Bayani Fenando stubbornly wanted it his way although he is NOT a transportation engineer.

      Another option is to FINALLY complete C-3 that was planned way back in the 1970s. However, C3 was blocked by then San Juan Mayor Joseph Estrada and Mandaluyong Mayor Domingo(?). C-3 can continue from Araneta Ave. cutting across San Juan and Mandaluyong and finally to Makati.

    3. Architect Palafox suggested that at least 12 elevated highway should be constructed in Metro Manila, in addition to the other LRT lines that would be built.

    4. armando flores on

      Filipinos are truly unfortunate having a puppet and visionless president who will soon leave nothing but vindictiveness and corruption of the highest order in government. Infrastructures such as building tunnels and/or elevated roads to ease traffic along EDSA are long overdue. Aquino, the liberals and their band of thieves in government are just siphoning public funds for themselves at the expense of the people.

    5. Why not just reduce the number of private cars on the road, and improve public transportation? Its cheaper and, and more importantly, less dangerous in case a major earthquake hits the Metro.

    6. The proposed 22-km Edsa skyway will just be a waste of taxpayers money and will not solve Metro Manila’s suffocating traffic gridlock. Once it is completed, it will just fill up with cars and other vehicles quickly and cause traffic jams at its entrance and exit points. Likewise, skyways in earthquake-prone Philippines are hazardous as its giant slabs of concrete roads will squash the vehicles and people at ground level, like what happened in Oakland, California during an earthquake years ago.

      The way to resolve our traffic gridlock in Metro Manila is to copy what Singapore as done by limiting the number of cars in MM and developing a world-class mass transit system. For a city-state with a population of over 5 million, Singapore has four MRT lines linked with buses at every train station.

      We have to end our status-symbol fascination with the inefficient cars, by cutting the number of cars by half in Metro Manila through the raising the costs of car ownership, like what Singapore did. But at the same time, we need to increase our MRT lines by another six considering Metro Manila has a population of 15 million now. A state-owned BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) which proved successful in Curitiba, Brazil should be put in place too. Without the above changes, Metro Manila’s roads will remain the world’s largest parking lot.

    7. THE PHILIPPINES HAS THE WILL AND MONEY AND SKILL BUT CORRUPTION MESSES IT UP. WE NEED A STRONG AND STRICT GOVERNMENT. AND ESPECIALLY DISCIPLINE AS A PEOPLE BUT ALAS, THIS WILL NEVER EVER HAPPEN, NOT IN MY BELOVED PHILIPPINES !!!!

    8. Everyone and his uncle as well as his favorite tricycle driver has suggestions for improving metro-Manila traffic, including “raise cigarette tax” or “raise gasoline- and kerosene-tax”. Right? Some folks have forgotten to include “…reparations!!! No idea for what, but surely USA owes hundreds of millions of dollars in reparations”, di ba?