One of the most common problems in Metro Manila that almost every Filipino is familiar with is traffic. It has troubled people from all walks of life as they struggle to get from one point to another.
According to the Traffic Index 2019 by TomTom, which ranks the congestion in cities around the world, Manila has a traffic congestion of 71 percent, tying it with the city of Bengaluru in India.
The study also disclosed that Manila has a 73 percent level of congestion in highways and 70 percent in non-highways. It also stated that Filipinos lost 10 days and 17 hours driving during rush hour in the course of the year. Furthermore, 29 minutes are added per 30-minute trip in the morning rush, and an additional 38 minutes per 30-minute trip in the evening.
In order to address this, President Rodrigo Duterte through the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) headed by Sec. Mark A. Villar, carried out the EDSA Decongestion Program, which aims to build bridges to connect different parts of Metro Manila to each other, making it easier for drivers and travelers to go from one point to another without having to worry about getting stuck in traffic.
Part of this program is the establishment of 11 bridges measuring a total of 9,348 meters. With a budget of P42 billion, the bridges are anticipated to lessen the amount of traffic in Metro Manila, particularly in EDSA, as it will provide motorists and drivers an alternative route to their destinations.
Some of these projects include the BGC-Ortigas Center Link Road, the Binondo-Intramuros Bridge, the Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge, the Pasig-Marikina River and Manggahan Floodway Bridges, and the Metro Manila priority seismic improvement project.
The BGC-Ortigas Center Link Road project comprises two components: the Sta. Monica-Lawton Bridge, a four-lane bridge that’s 440.029 meters long, and the Lawton Ave.-Global City Viaduct which has four lanes and measures 565.317 meters.
It is expected to be finished by August 2021 and will shorten the travel time between Bonifacio Global City and the Ortigas Central Business District by 12 minutes.
Another project of the DPWH is the Binondo-Intramuros Bridge, which is a 680 lineal meter Basket-Handle Tied Steel arch bridge connecting the historical areas of Intramuros and Binondo with a viaduct over Estero de Binondo.
Other than creating new bridges, the EDSA Decongestion program has also targeted the replacement of existing bridges with sturdier ones. An example of this is the Estrella Pantaleon Bridge.
The current structure will be replaced with a pre-stressed concrete rigid frame bridge (V-shape piers) with corrugated steel webs with 4-lane concrete deck slab of approximately 506.46 lineal meters to connect Estrella Street at Makati side to Barangka Drive at Mandaluyong side.
DPWH also has other finished projects and other works that are still waiting on the acquisition of contracts for an area, the detailed engineering design, or the procurement of civil works.
Linking roads and creating expressways
In addition to the DPWH’s EDSA Decongestion Project, the government agency has also been working on the establishment of road links and expressways to make the life of motorists easier by lessening the time they usually spend in traffic.
This project is allotted P180.6 billion for its budget in creating or bettering new roads and expressways that all-in-all have a total of 121,850 meters in length.
One example of a project in this category is the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) Link Segment 10 which is a 5.58km expressway connecting McArthur Highway and C-3 to shorten the travel time from Valenzuela City to C-3 in Caloocan City from more than one hour to five minutes. It will also benefit about 20,000 motorists a day.
A similar project is the NLEX Harbor Link C-3 to R-10 section —a 2.6-kilometer, six-lane divided, all elevated portion of the NLEX Harbor Link from Caloocan Interchange in C3 Road to the Radial Road 10 in Navotas City. It will shorten travel time from port area to NLEX (and vice versa) from 60 minutes to only 10 minutes and is said to benefit 30,000 motorists per day.
Furthermore, R10 has also been a project of the DPWH. Aside from widening a 4.75-kilometer section of the Radial Road 10, the agency has included a drainage system in the works. As a result, it cuts the travel time between Manila and Navotas from one hour to 30 minutes.
Such work was replicated in Samar Street in Quezon City. The project involved the widening of a 1.086-kilometer road connecting Mother Ignacia Street and Timog Avenue. This serves as an alternative route to ease the traffic flow in EDSA, going to Cubao and Makati.
Motorists were not the only people that the DPWH wanted to keep stress-free from the city’s traffic.
Traffic is one of the most notorious things that travellers worry about when going to and from the airport. To avoid missing their flights, people would leave hours earlier than the expected departure time.
In an effort to alleviate this concern, the DPWH developed the NAIA Expressway phase two. This is a 14.85-kilometer, four-lane elevated expressway from the end point of NAIA Expressway Phase I to PAGCOR Entertainment City. Since its completion in April 2017, it has provided access to NAIA Terminals 1, 2, and 3, as well as an interface with the Skyway and Cavitex. The travel time between Skyway and Terminal 1 was reduced from 24 minutes to eight minutes.
Other road projects by the DPWH that are awaiting completion or are yet to get started include the NLEX Harbor Link Segment 8.2, the NLEX-SLEX Connector Road, the third stage of the Metro Manila Skyway, and the Alabang-Sucat Skyway Connection and Ramp Extension to name a few.
With some of these projects already completed and with more expected to be done, DPWH hopes to improve the congestion situation in Mega Manila and make travelling smoother for drivers and commuters alike.