CABANATUAN CITY—An influential group of Central Luzon businessmen has expressed concern over the structural integrity of the Pampanga Viaduct amid the devastation brought by the powerful earthquake in Surigao del Norte two weeks ago.
The viaduct, also known as the Pulilan-Apalit Bridge, is a five-kilometer bridge passing over the Candaba Swamp and the adjacent Pampanga River along the North Luzon Expressway, and connects the provinces of Pampanga and Bulacan.
Considered one of the longest bridges in the country, the viaduct consists of four lanes, two northbound and two southbound.
The Department of Public Works and Highways office here said it is eyeing other alternate routes in place of the bridge structure, if ever it is damaged.
The Pampanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry, led by its chairman emeritus Levi Laus, has inquired about the sturdiness of the viaduct in case of movement in the West Valley Fault, said Antonio Molano, DPWH regional director for Central Luzon.
“They have been asking me, what if the [structural] integrity of the viaduct has been compromised?” Molano quoted Laus as saying.
Molano said the DPWH is looking at the Pulilan Bridge in the southbound portion of the province and the MacArthur Highway in the northbound portion as buffer roads. “We have been constructing directional designs just in case,” he said.
The viaduct, built in 1973, was retrofitted in 2003 and again in 2013. Molano said he has discussed its condition with the management of the Manila North Tollways Corp., which maintains the bridge and the rest of NLEX.
“They told me that with the latest retrofitting in 2013, the viaduct is structurally stable,” Molano said.
He admitted, however, that if the West Valley Fault moves, it would spell trouble for the viaduct.
Molano said the DPWH has also been checking government buildings, hospitals and school buildings.
“So far, our findings showed they are structurally stable,” he added.