I am writing this column as we prepare for the inauguration of the Pantaleon-Estrella Bridge this July 29 — a project bombarded by criticism and fake news since it started construction in January, 2019. I remember announcing the closure, dismantling and transfer of the mobile bridge to Pangasinan and receiving a lot of personal attacks and insults thereafter — for what they thought was a useless exercise of government power.
But no Filipino on her right conscience, after reading the technical report of the bridge, the traffic monitoring survey and the traffic management study, would recommend the retention of a structure with a utilization level well above its maximum intended capacity. Would it be able to withstand the big one when its utilization rate was five times more than its actual capacity? No. There was a moral obligation to upgrade the structure to what it is today — a bridge capable of handling 50,000 vehicles.
Did we inconvenience the public for 19 months? Yes — but the new 506-meter bridge connecting Makati City at Estrella St. and Mandaluyong City at Barangka Drive, will provide a safer route for Filipinos for at least two decades.
Did we take loans with usurious interest rates to put it up? No — the P1.47 billion bridge project was funded under a grant from the Chinese government.
Were Filipinos not allowed to work on the bridge project? No — at least 350 Filipino workers were hired for the project.
Were Chinese experts present during project implementation? Yes — to oversee the use of form travelers systems in the construction.
Was this peculiar? Of course not. You’d find Korean engineers in Panguil Bay Bridge and Japanese engineers in Plaridel Bypass. This is a technical requirement usually found in Official Development Assistance (ODA) Projects to ensure that bridges are built on the right specifications and that there is proper knowledge transfer of the technology.
Will this aid in decongesting EDSA? Yes, as part of a masterplan composed of 25 projects, which includes 14 expressways spanning 121 kilometers and 11 bridges spanning 9.3 kilometers.
Have we finally solved Metro Manila traffic? Not yet. The battle to decongest EDSA started in July, 2016 and it has been fought every single day since. From the first time “Build, Build, Build” Czar Mark Villar laid out the masterplan — until now, not a day has been wasted to actualize it.
Today, let’s explore the 9th most populous metropolitan area in Asia and the 5th most populous urban area in the world — National Capital Region — a region composed of 16 cities.
According to Secretary Villar, DPWH has completed 795 kilometers of roads, 175 bridges, 1,675 flood mitigation structures and 9,746 classrooms in National Capital Region.
- Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge
To improve the existing bridge network consisting of 30 bridges crossing Pasig River, Marikina River and Manggahan Floodway, which caters to about 1.3 million vehicles daily, the 506-meter Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge is constructed to connect Makati and Mandaluyong. Upon completion, it is expected to decrease traffic congestion at Makati-Mandaluyong Bridge by up to 3,360 vehicles per day and at Guadalupe Bridge by up to 4,474 vehicles per day.
- Kalayaan Bridge
The 961-meter Bonifacio Global City-Ortigas Center Link Road Project involves the construction of a four lane bridge across Pasig River connecting Lawton Avenue in Makati City and Sta. Monica Street in Pasig City and a viaduct structure spanning from Lawton Avenue to Bonifacio Global City. When completed this year, travel time from Taguig to Makati or Pasig Cities will be reduced from one hour to only 12 minutes. Traffic congestion at EDSA and C-5 Road particularly along Guadalupe Bridge and Bagong Ilog Bridge will be alleviated by about 25 percent.
- Skyway Stage 3
The 18-kilometer Skyway Stage 3 was not completed using its original alignment, which was approved in 2014. Due to right of way difficulties, it had to be realigned following the San Juan River alignment. This was approved via a Memorandum of Agreement, which was signed on October 25, 2018. Prior to this, site possession for the entire project was only at 8.64 percent.
The project is expected to decongest EDSA and C5 by at least 55,000 vehicles daily and reduce travel time from Makati to Quezon City from two hours to only 15 to 20 minutes.
- NLEX Harbor Link Segment 10
The 5.58-kilometer NLEX Harbor Link Segment 10, the first truck graded expressway in the country, will connect to four other expressways: The NLEX Connector Project, the Skyway Stage 3, the Radial Road 10, and the NLEX Harbor Link C3 Radial Road 10.
A 5.58-kilometer expressway connecting MacArthur Highway and C3 road, will interconnect with the Skyway Stage 3 via the NLEX-SLEX Connector Road, an 8-kilometer expressway connecting the end of Segment 10 in C3 Road in Caloocan to PUP Sta. Mesa in Manila.
- NLEX Harbor Link C3 Radial Road 10 Spur Link
The 2.6-kilometer NLEX Harbor Link C3-Radial Road 10 Spur Link spanning from C3 road in Caloocan to Radial Road 10 in Manila was the first project to be completed following the new COVID-19 protocol. It has effectively reduced travel time from Quezon City to Manila from two hours to only 20 minutes.
- Pasig-Marikina Flood Control Project
The Phase III of the Pasig-Marikina River Channel Improvement Project (PMRCIP), which spans from the Lower Marikina River (Napindan Channel to the downstream of Manggahan Floodway) to Delpan Bridge, is already complete. Revetments, parapet walls, dike embankment, sluice structures, and bridge foundation protection were constructed and installed along priority critical sections of the Pasig-Marikina River.
The civil works for Phase IV are currently on-going to address the downstream of Manggahan Floodway to Marikina Bridge. This would also include the construction of the Marikina Control Gate Structure and will further decrease flood inundation by 7.5 percent.
- Binondo-Intramuros Bridge
The 680-meter Binondo Intramuros Bridge, which will connect Intramuros and Binondo via a viaduct, will be equipped with pedestrian infrastructure.
- Wawang Pulo and Coloong Pumping Station
To minimize flooding in the city’s low lying areas, DPWH constructed the Wawang Pulo and Coloong pumping station, which has a total water discharge capacity of 14 cubic meters per second and seven cubic meters per second, respectively.
- Mindanao Avenue Extension
The Mindanao Avenue Extension is a 3.2-kilometer highway which will reduce travel time from Quirino Highway to General Luis Avenue from one hour and 30 minutes to only 20 minutes.
- NLEX Connector
The eight kilometer NLEX-SLEX Connector, spanning from C3 Road in Caloocan to Sta. Mesa in Manila is utilizing the Super T Technology which would reduce construction schedule by about one year. The first five – kilometer segment from C3 road to España is expected to be completed within the year.
- C5 Southlink
The first segment of the 7.7-kilometer C5-South Link Expressway Project from Merville to C5 or SLEX was completed last July 2019. This will eventually interconnect to Radial Road 1, Sucat Interchange and E. Rodriguez.
12. Skyway Extension
The Alabang-Sucat Skyway Extension will build two additional lanes from Sucat Main Toll Plaza to Susana Heights. The project is now at 47 percent and will be delivered within the year.