23 'Build, Build, Build' projects that would decongest Metro Manila

BY

Anna Mae Yu Lamentillo Anna Mae Yu Lamentillo

The story of EDSA need not be told. Anyone who have stepped in Manila would know — and would have complained at some point — about the world’s worst city for drivers.

While other nationalities would ask about the weather, Filipinos would talk about the traffic. This is not at all surprising. The debate about Metro Manila’s “true midpoint” is not new. It happens almost every day — over family dinners, coffee meet-ups, high school reunions and even on dates. I remember one friend who broke up with his boyfriend because she could not handle a “long distance relationship”. The five hour travel time to and from Paranaque to Fairview took a toll on their relationship. And honestly, no one could blame them. EDSA has become a source of frustration for many, if not all drivers, commuters and passengers.

The problem however is expected. Metro Manila is one of the world’s most densely populated city with over 42,000 inhabitants per square kilometer. But EDSA, the 23.8 circumferential highway stretching from Taft to Caloocan has not been extended after the 1960s. The project which was originally intended to accommodate a maximum capacity of 288,00 vehicles a day — is being used by 402,000 vehicles. In other words, EDSA has exceeded its capacity by about 39%.

The absence of a genuine infrastructure intervention have already caused the Philippines billions of pesos. In 2012, the Philippines lost ₱2.4 billion a day due to Metro Manila traffic according to Japan International Cooperation Agency. Six years after, the number had gone up to ₱3.5 billion a day due to traffic congestion in Metro Manila. Now, road usage in Metro Manila is at about 13.4 million trips per day and this could go as high as 16.1 million in 17 years.

EDSA Decongestion Master Plan

Since 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte and Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar embark on a a plan to decongest EDSA and solve traffic through the “Build, Build, Build” program.

According to Villar, the EDSA Decongestion Program which is composed of 23 projects amounting to over 383 Billion pesos is well underway. President Duterte’s promise of decongesting EDSA is inevitable.

In 2020, six big-ticket projects in Metro Manila will be accessible to the public. These includes: the NLEX Harbor Link Segment 10, the NLEX Harbor Link R-10 Exit Ramp, the Mindanao Avenue Extension Segment 2C; Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3; Fort Bonifacio-Nichols Road (Lawton Avenue) Widening; and the Bonifacio Global City-Ortigas Center Link Road Project.

Manila to QC in 15 minutes

The NLEX Harbor Link Segment 10 is a 5.58 km, 6-lane divided elevated expressway utilising the existing PNR railroad tracks connecting McArthur Highway, C-3 road in Caloocan and Malabon. The project when completed effectively shortens travel time from Valenzuela City to C3 in Caloocan from 1 hour to only 5 minutes.

The NLEX Harbor Link Segment 10 will extend and connect to the Radial Road 10 Exit Ramp, a 2.6km, 4-lane elevated ramp which connects Caloocan, Malabon, and Valenzuela to Manila. When the project is completed, travel time from port area in Manila to NLEX will be reduced from two hours to only 10 to 15 minutes.

Quirino Highway to Gen. Luis Road in 20 minutes

Another project that eases the travel in the east-west thoroughfare and targets to decongest and connect Quirino Highway and General Luis Road is the Mindanao Avenue Extension Segment 2C project, which was started in the 1980s.

The Mindanao Avenue Extension Segment 2C project is a 3.2 km, 4 lane divided highway from NLEX to Gen. Luis Avenue, connecting the areas of Bulacan, Valenzuela, North Caloocan and Quezon City. When completed, travel time between Quirino Highway, and General Luis Road, will be reduced from 1 hour and 30 minutes to only 20 minutes.

Makati to QC in 20 minutes

The main line of the Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3 Project (MMSS3), an 18.30 km elevated expressway spanning from Buendia in Makati City to the North Luzon Expressway in Balintawak, Quezon City, will also be completed. It will have eight (8) access ramps or interchanges, namely Buendia Avenue, (South Super Highway, Makati City), Pres. Quirino Avenue (Malate, Manila), Plaza Dilao (Paco, Manila), Nagtahan/Aurora Boulevard (Manila), E. Rodriguez Avenue (Quezon City), Quezon Avenue (Quezon City), Sgt. Rivera St. (Quezon City) and NLEX.

The project is expected to decongest Metro Manila by at least 55,000 vehicles daily and reduce travel time from Makati to Quezon City from 2 hours to only 15 to 20 minutes.

BGC to Taguig in 12 minutes

Widening of the 3.3 km Fort Bonifacio - Nichols Field Road from four lanes to six lanes will also be completed in 2020.

It is expected to complement the Bonifacio Global City (BGC) - Ortigas Centre Link Road Project, which effectively connects BGC and Ortigas Central Business within 12 minutes. The project is composed of the Sta. Monica-Lawton Bridge, a 440 meter four lane bridge across Pasig River connecting Lawton Avenue in Makati City and Santa Monica St. in Pasig City, and the Lawton Avenue - Global City Viaduct, a 565 meter four lane viaduct structure traversing Lawton Avenue onwards to the entrance of BGC.

Civil works to begin this year

DPWH is also set to begin civil works on the following projects this year: NLEX Harbor Link Segment 8.2 from Mindanao Avenue to Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City; the Metro Manila Priority Bridges Seismic Improvement Project covering the retrofitting of Guadalupe and Lambingan Bridges; and the Pasig River & Manggahan Floodway Bridges Construction Project inclusive of five (5) bridges namely: North & South Harbor Bridge, Palanca-Villegas Bridge, Blumentritt-Antipolo Bridge, and Beata-Manalo Bridge crossing Pasig River, the Eastbank-Westbank Bridge 2 crossing Manggahan Floodway.

Other projects

Apart from these, the EDSA Decongest Masterplan also includes the following projects: Radial Road 10, NLEX-SLEX Connector Road, Katipunan Avenue Extension, Southeast Metro Manila Expressway (C6 Phase 1), Samar Street, Laguna Lake Highway, C5 South Link Expressway, NAIA Expressway Phase 2, Binondo-Intramuros Bridge, Estrella Pantaleon Bridge, JP Rizal-Lopez Jaena Bridge, JP Rizal-St. Mary Bridge, Marikina-Vista Real Bridge, and the Bataan Cavite Interlink Bridge.