The problem surrounding the 90-year-old Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA), — a 23.8 km circumferential highway — needs no introduction. The project which was started in the 1930’s has long exceeded its maximum capacity of 288,000 vehicles a day. Now, there are about 402,000 vehicles using the alignment every day — 39% more than its intended capacity.
Inevitably, the absence of any substantial infrastructure intervention has resulted in a congestion level of about 71% — the second worst traffic congestion in the world. In other words, drivers in Metro Manila would need to spend an average of 71% extra travel time in traffic.
But the congestion dilemma has also become a source of economic frustration. In 2012, the Philippines lost P2.4 billion a day due to Metro Manila traffic. Six years later, a study conducted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency said the number had gone up to P3.5 billion.
This is about to change with the completion of the EDSA Decongestion Masterplan — a network of 23 infrastructure projects meant to connect the northern and southern most part of Manila within a span of 20 to 30 minutes.
From the onset of the Duterte administration, Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar has been working on a plan that would divert about 200,000 away from EDSA, C5, and other major thoroughfares.
One of the 23 projects under the EDSA Decongestion Masterplan is the Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3 Project — an 18.30-km elevated expressway from Buendia in Makati City to the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) in Balintawak, Quezon City.
The project which is composed of five sections is expected to decongest traffic in EDSA, C5, and other major thoroughfares (e.g. Quezon Avenue, Araneta Avenue, Nagtahan Avenue, and Quirino Avenue) by at least 55,000 vehicles daily.
Now that the project is completed, travel time from Makati to Quezon City will be reduced from 2 hours to only 15 to 20 minutes. Travel time from NLEX to SLEX will be shortened from 2 1/2 hours to only 30 minutes. Residents of Quezon City will also be able to reach NAIA in just 20 minutes.
Makati to Manila
The opening of the Skyway Stage 3 project is only a precursor to the completion of a network of big-ticket projects, which will all be completed by 2022.
For instance, Skyway will eventually connect to the newly opened NLEX Harbor Link Segment 10 and NLEX Radial Road 10 ramp — effectively creating a direct route from Makati to Manila via the NLEX SLEX Connector, an 8-km elevated expressway spanning from C3 Road in Caloocan City to PUP Sta. Mesa in Manila.
This connection will effectively create a loop within Metro Manila where every city is connected within a 20 to 30-minute timeframe.
The EDSA Decongestion Masterplan also includes the BGC Ortigas Link Bridge, the Pantaleon Estrella Bridge, the Binondo Intramuros Bridge, the Katipunan Extension, the Laguna Lake Expressway, and the Mindanao Avenue Extension, among others.