AT least 13 “iconic” bridges, as proposed by Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar, will be constructed across the 25-kilometer stretch of Pasig River to help decongest traffic along EDSA.
Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno on Wednesday disclosed that two of the bridges had been committed for free by Chinese President Xi Jinping following President Rodrigo Duterte’s state visit to China last year.
“This wouldn’t be a normal bridge, he [Villar] wants something iconic like the ones in London and France, really beautiful, with bike lanes, among others,” said Diokno at the weekly Kapihan sa Manila Bay media forum at Café Adriatico in Malate, Manila.
Villar’s proposal, according to Diokno, would provide commuters and motorists alternative routes, and provide EDSA and other major thoroughfares around Metro Manila much-needed traffic space.
He added that among those to be built is a bridge that would connect Bonifacio Global City (BGC) in the Taguig-Makati area and Ortigas Center in Pasig.
“At present, if you’re in Bonifacio [Global City] and you want to go to Pasig or vice versa, there’s no other way but through EDSA,” he added.
The envisioned BGC-Ortigas connector bridge is expected to absorb 25 percent of daily traffic in EDSA, where more than 350,000 vehicles pass everyday.
Diokno said the implementation of the project would likely be funded under the General Appropriations Act, adding that the government plans to spend as much as P8 trillion on infrastructure over the medium term.
The President committed to spend a record P890.9 billion on vital infrastructure this year in line with plans to further hike expenditures to up to 7 percent of gross domestic product within the next six years.
During the President’s state visit to China, Beijing committed to finance at least three infrastructure projects worth $3.4 billion.
Diokno said that government has lined up big-ticket projects, which include a fast train from Clark, Pampanga to Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City; the Philippine National Railway project from Tutuban to Matnog, Sorsogon; a bridge project from Matnog, Sorsogon to Samar to link Luzon to the Visayas; and another bridge from Leyte to Surigao.
A list of proposed projects were also submitted to China for possible financing and feasibility study support. Among them are the $53.6-million Chico River Pump Irrigation project covering Cagayan and Kalinga; the $374.03-million New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam project in Quezon province; and the $3.01-billion South Line segment of the North to South Railway spanning Manila to Legazpi City in the Bicol region.
A delegation from China earlier discussed the approval and implementation of the proposed infrastructure projects.
According to Diokno, the Chinese government wants the projects to be implemented soon.