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No short-term solution to Edsa traffic woes seen

New expressways, roads, bridges only way to decongest busy street

Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar said on Monday that new expressways, roads and bridges would help solve congestion on Edsa, delivering on a campaign promise of President Duterte.

During the 2019 Pre-State of the Nation Address (Sona) Economic and Infrastructure Forum, Villar outlined a series of infrastructure projects aimed at diverting hundreds of thousands of vehicles away from Edsa, Metro Manila’s main road that cut through several key cities and a symbol of the capital’s horrible traffic congestion.

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Solving traffic woes on Edsa was a promise Mr. Duterte had admitted in February as among his failures.

“When all these are finished, we would be able to bring back Edsa to its former state, which is acceptable traffic,” Villar said.

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Multihour traffic jams are common on Edsa. Road traffic issues in the capital district also carry a heavy economic burden: P3.5 billion in economic losses a day, according to estimates of the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

Villar cited projects such as the Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3, the 18.7-kilometer elevated expressway being built by San Miguel Corp. that will cut travel time between Makati and Quezon City from two hours to about 20 minutes.

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) expects the Skyway Stage 3, which will divert 100,000 vehicles away from Edsa, to be nearly finished by the end of this year, with a few ramps opened.

He said another Metro Manila elevated connector road being built by Metro Pacific Investments Corp. and the 32.6-km Southeast Metro Manila Expressway (C6) Project would remove another 100,000 cars from Edsa. Both of those projects are expected to be completed by 2021.

Villar said Sta. Monica-Lawton Bridge across Pasig River and the Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge linking Makati and Mandaluyong would bring added relief.

Overall, Villar said Edsa needed a reduction of 250,000-300,000 cars. The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority earlier estimated daily volume of cars at 385,000 versus Edsa’s capacity of 240,000 a day.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said all departments were closely coordinating to solve Metro Manila’s traffic mess.

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Other mass transit projects are expected to ease congestion, but these would take several more years to complete.

One of the Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) biggest projects is the Metro Manila subway, which will be completed by 2025 but will have three operating stations by 2022, when Mr. Duterte’s term ends.

The DOTr earlier committed to increase the country’s railway footprint to more than 1,900 km in Luzon and Mindanao compared to 77 km today.

On Monday, administration officials also highlighted major land, air and sea projects that would accelerate the development of areas outside Metro Manila and boost tourism.

A major project of the DPWH is a plan to spend P776.4 billion to build 1,049 km of high-standard highways in Luzon, Cebu and Davao. The biggest component is the so-called Luzon Spine Expressway Network.

Villar said the project would entail 888.26 km of highways costing some P671.64 billion to build. Once finished, the Luzon Spine project will cut travel time between Ilocos and Bicol from 20 hours to nine hours.

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TAGS: Business, Edsa traffic, Mark Villar
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