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Thursday, February 29, 2024

New Lucban bridge opened to Cagayan traffic

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LIBERTAD, Abulug, Cagayan—The P632-million Lucban Bridge in northwest Cagayan officially opened to traffic on Friday. 

Cagayan second district Rep. Baby Aline Vargas-Alfonso and key Department of Public Works and Highways regional officials led the simple ribbon-cutting ceremony at the western side approach of the one-kilometer-long structure that replaced a 49-year-old bridge.

The bridge traverses Lucban River, also known as Abulug-Apayao River, and links barangays Lucban on the east and Libertad on the west. It is 15 meters upstream of the old bridge.

It connects two major highways, the Daang Maharlika in the east via Isabela Province and Tuguegarao City, and the Manila North Road in the west via Laoag City. It is the gateway to Region I and the Cordillera Administrative Region.

Construction of the bridge started in March 2013 by contractors Advance Const. and Pulsar Const. The old bridge was established in 1968 by Takigami Steel Construction Co. Limited of Japan, which during its inauguration was the Philippines’ seventh longest bridge.

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But the deteriorating condition of the steel trusses owing to severe rust and the cracks on the concrete deck slab “necessitates its immediate replacement to sustain demands of economic activities in the area,” said Engineer Jose Tobias, chief of construction division of the DPWH regional office.

Tobias represented DPWH Regional Director Melanio C. Briosos, who was in a conference in Manila.

In a statement, Briosos said the new bridge, with a length of 825 lineal meters, consists of 12 spans with 436.90 lineal meters in total length of approaches. “It will provide convenience to the public in transporting agricultural and commercial products to major trade centers in the area and neighboring provinces,” he added.

The old bridge is now closed, will be dismantled soon, and its salvaged materials to be given to any local government unit that may request or may need it, DPWH said.

Rep. Vargas-Alfonso thanked all those who helped during the lobbying for funds of this project, particularly officials from the national, regional and provincial levels of the DPWH.

The lawmaker recalled that right after the special elections that sent her to Congress after the death of her late father, then-Rep. Florencio L. Vargas in 2010, she went to the office of then-Public Works Secretary Jesus Singson in 2011 to ask a new bridge be built “not only for Lucban but also a similarly long bridge at Pamplona town.”

“We are so lucky they immediately approved these requests, and in 2012 I started lobbying in Congress,” she told the municipal department heads, members of the Sangguniang Bayan of Abulug, barangay officials, tanods, and day care workers in attendance.

Abulug Mayor Jose Manuel Vargas and Vice Mayor Precy Vargas also graced the occasion.

Pamplona Bridge was first to be completed last year, with no less than then-President Benigno S. Aquino IV leading the inauguration.

Vargas-Alfonso said the old Lucban Bridge is memorable to her, when, as a seven-year-old, she knew it was the very first project that her father, then the mayor of Abulug, became a contractor of.

Top government officials, including President Rodrigo Duterte, and all mayors in northwest Cagayan were originally invited, the lawmaker said. But owing to a conflict of schedules, they had to rush the opening of the bridge because of the many requests from the business sector, who are affected by the deteriorating old bridge.

Four years ago, the old bridge had a major crack in one of its posts after a trailer truck carrying heavy equipment passed-by, totally closing this national highway to traffic. It was reopened only after several months. 

Two years later, another major damage prevented heavy-loaded trucks from passing the old bridge.

DPWH said the new bridge leads to opening of interesting various business opportunities with attractive incentives and advantages for interested investors.

“These developments are deemed toward attracting legitimate and productive local and foreign investments, thus, creating employment opportunities not only in the province, but the whole country as well,” Engr. Tobias said.

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