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Postpone projects near bridge, submit traffic count DPWH 7 urged

| by: Kelvin Cañizares

The Department of Public Works and Highways in Central Visayas (DPWH 7) is tasked to submit a traffic count after it resumed its repairs of the first Mandaue-Mactan Bridge last Saturday.

A proposal, approved by the board, came from Mactan Cebu International Airport general manager Nigel Paul Villarete during an emergency meeting of the Mactan Cebu Bridge Management Board (MCBMB) yesterday at the Capitol as presided by Governor Hilario P. Davide III.

“It is imperative to know the traffic volume before and after the closure. We need to know what will happen if there is an intermittent obstruction because that will cause traffic congestion,” Villarete said.

He said the road data and traffic evaluation and analysis should focus on five crucial intersections near the bridge, especially the Plaridel Street-U.N. Avenue. The other intersections are the A.C. Cortes Ave. – Plaridel St., U.N. Ave. – North Hagnaya, A.S. Fortuna – North Hagnaya and A.C. Cortes Ave. – North Hagnaya.

“As a transport practitioner, it’s important to get all the data. It’s okay now unless something happens. Let’s not wait for problems to surface, we need to prepare now,” Villarete said in a post meeting interview.

National Economic Development Authority (NEDA-7) Regional Director Efren B.Carreon suggested that the time DPWH conduct its traffic surveys should be during hours when traffic starts to build up. These could be from 6 to 7 in the morning and 6 to 7  in the evening.

Engineer Pericles Dakay, MCBMB vice chairman, quizzed Glen Antigua and Frank Brazil, heads of the Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu traffic management agencies, which are giving advice to the DPWH on traffic situations.

The two officials said traffic on the bridge and its surrounding vicinities were manageable last weekend but they will still have to observe the vehicle flow on weekdays, as there will be more commuters going for work.

Engineer Nonato Palaydo, planning and division chief of DPWH 7, promised to produce a traffic count report next week since the agency still needs to forward the data to its central office for analysis.

To avoid contributing to traffic congestion, Dakay proposed to the DPHW 7 to move the schedules of its ongoing road projects near the bridge.

“Traffic is actually a network flow. It’s a series of nodes. So it’s not only the repair on the bridge that causes it. If you are doing road concreting in some parts of Mandaue, you are contributing to traffic congestion in a node, thus affecting the whole system,” Dakay pointed out.

Despite the resumption of repair works, the bridge remains open to a two-way traffic from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.  One lane, however, is closed from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. for vehicles bound from Mandaue to Lapu-Lapu.

According to DPWH 7, the repair works run from April 2 to Aug. 29.

Other stakeholders like Roger Lim, CEO and president of East Asia Utilities Corp.  and Porferio Monsteclaros, a director of the Mactan Export Processing Zone Chamber of Exporters and Manufacturers (MEPZCEM) also voiced their concerns.

Lim, whose company maintains a 69 kilovolt (kV) power line, asked the DPWH 7 when the repairs underneath the bridge would take place so he can de-energize the high voltage cable line.

He explained that there might be some days that the demand of the grid is high and knowing the exact repair schedules will enable the power sector to draw up contingency plans.