The structural integrity of both the MacArthur and Quezon Bridges in Manila may have been compromised because of corroded parts and there is a need to reduce its load during the annual procession of the Black Nazarene, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson warned on Tuesday.
“There is a need to reduce the live load on either the McArthur bridge or the Quezon bridge during the activities. Those joining the procession shall use only one lane of McArthur bridge, while, the other half can still be utilized for light vehicle traffic,” Singson said in a letter to Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim.
We should exercise extreme caution on the use of the two bridges in order to avoid untoward incidents to happen,” he added, citing the findings of a technical team from the department’s Bureau of Design.
Although Quezon Bridge will not be used during the procession, devotees usually to flock to this bridge for a fuller view of the Black Nazarene when it will pass under the bridge, Singson said.
Singson said his department is coordinating with the Metro Manila Development Authority, the City Government of Manila and the Archdiocese of Manila regarding the structural integrity of the bridges.
The MacArthur Bridge is a reinforced concrete beam bridge that was built after World War II when retreating Japanese forces bombed the original structure, called Santa Cruz Bridge, during the Battle of Manila in February 1945.
The Santa Cruz Bridge was a steel truss type and was the fourth to span the Pasig River connecting the district of Santa Cruz from Plaza Goiti (now Plaza Lacson) with Arroceros Street (now P. Burgos Street).
The Spanish colonial government laid the foundations of the bridge and put down the bridge’s two piers before 1898, but work stopped due to the Philippine Revolution and the outbreak of the Spanish-American War of 1898.
The Americans resumed work on the bridge when they started to colonize the Philippines in 1900 and it was completed in 1902.
During the Battle of Manila, however, Santa Cruz Bridge and all other bridges spanning the Pasig River were blown up by the retreating Imperial Japanese Army. The simpler concrete beam bridge was built after the war and was renamed MacArthur Bridge in honor of American general Douglas MacArthur.
The Quezon Bridge, on the other hand, was named after Manuel Luis Quezon, president of the Philippine Commonwealth when the a steel arch bridge was built to replace Puente Colgante connecting Arrroceros Street with the Quiapo district.
The Puente Colgante, originally called Puente de Claveria, was completed in 1852 and was the first suspension bridge in Southeast Asia. Designed by Basque engineer Matias Menchacatorre, the bridge was built and owned by the Philippine-Spanish conglomerate Ynchausti y Compania.