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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Metro LGUs adjust hours to ease traffic

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Starting April 15, the recently passed Metro Manila Council (MMC) resolution says that working hours in local government units (LGUs) will shift from the traditional 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The adjustment in working hours of LGUs within the National Capital Region aims to reduce vehicular congestion, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said.

Composed of 17 mayors in Metro Manila, the MMC stands as the governing board and policy-making body of the MMDA.

All LGUs were directed to issue an ordinance to implement the adjusted working hours.

However, government agencies in Metro Manila providing essential services may adopt the adjusted working schedule provided that they ensure continuous and uninterrupted public service delivery.

The MMC resolution recommended that President Marcos issue an executive order for the implementation of the modified working hours in Metro Manila local governments.

On the matter of road expansion and rehabilitation, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) on Wednesday bared several big-ticket projects being constructed by the government in a bid to ease traffic congestion in Metro Manila.

Speaking at the Bagong Pilipinas Town Hall Meeting on Traffic Concerns convened by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. in San Juan City, DPWH Secretary Manuel Bonoan shared some of the infrastructure projects aimed to alleviate bottlenecks and provide alternative routes to relieve the National Capital Region of vehicular congestion.

He said the traffic decongestion program is a key strategic infrastructure program of the department aligned with the 2023-2028 Philippine Development Plan. This program is consistent with the President’s 8-point socioeconomic agenda to reduce transport and logistics costs.

The program concentrates on the improvement and expansion of the national road network through the building of more by-passes, diversion roads, expressways, flyovers, interchanges, and underpasses.

One such project is the completion of the 18-kilometer Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3 designed to reduce travel time from Buendia to Balintawak from 2 hours to 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, construction of the 22 out of a target of 28 ramps along Tomas Claudio — Polytechnic University of the Philippines Sta. Mesa Section is already completed. Three ramps are undergoing construction while another three are under the planning stage, Bonoan added.

The building of the 7.7-kilometer North Luzon ExpressWay-South Luzon Expressway (NLEX-SLEX) Connector Road, an elevated expressway mostly traversing along the Philippine National Railways (PNR) rail track from Caloocan to Plaza Dilao in Manila, will cut travel time from SLEX to NLEX via EDSA from 2 hours to 20 minutes. The project is already 95 percent substantially completed and has three interchanges located in C3 Road/5th Avenue in Caloocan, and España and Magsaysay Boulevard in Manila.

To be completed this year is the NLEX-SLEX Connector Road Project, which, when fully operational, will ease travel time to its connection with Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3 in Sta. Mesa, Manila.

The 32-kilometer Southeast Metro Manila Expressway (C6 Expressway, Phase I) aims to reduce travel time from Bicutan to Batasan from 2 hours to 30 minutes, with right-of-way acquisition ongoing.

The C5 South Link Expressway will reduce travel time from R-1 Expressway to SLEX/C5 from 40 minutes to 10 minutes. The Merville to C5/SLEX and E. Rodriguez to Merville Sections are already operational.

Bonoan said that the Laguna Lakeshore Road Network Project – Phase I, involving the construction of a 51-km. road network along Laguna Lakeshore from Calamba to Bicutan, will cater to the large traffic volume in the southern corridor of Metro Manila. The processing of the loan for the project is underway with the Asian Development Bank. The engineering plan is 97 percent complete.

The 44-kilometer Cavite-Laguna Expressway is expected to slash travel time from Cavite Expressway (CAVITEX) in Kawit to SLEX Mamplasan in Laguna from 2 hours to 35 minutes.

The 17.4 km.-road from SLEX Mamplasan to Silang-Aguinaldo Interchange is already operational, while the remaining sections will be completed next year.

Bonoan added that they are also prioritizing the construction of new bridges crossing Pasig River and Manggahan Floodway. This project will provide alternative linkages between major thoroughfares and increase the number of usable roadways that would ease congestion along major roads in Metro Manila.

So far, three of the six bridges have been completed: The Binondo-Intramuros Bridge; Bonifacio Global City-Ortigas Center Link Road Project; and Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge.

The design and build contracts for three other bridges are ongoing, with civil works set to begin this year.

Civil works for the North & South Harbor Bridge and Palanca-Villegas Bridge crossing Pasig River are targeted to start by the end of this year or early part of 2025 while construction of Eastbank-Westbank Bridge 2 crossing the Manggahan Floodway is set to commence in September 2024, he added.

Furthermore, the rehabilitation and replacement of the Guadalupe and Lambingan bridges, under the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)-funded Metro Manila Priority Bridges Seismic Improvement Project, is set to start this year.

This will ensure the safety of about 365,000 motorists who traverse the Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) through the Guadalupe Bridge, and about 30,257 motorists that pass by Lambingan Bridge daily.

Other landmark projects, Bonoan added, in the Inter-Island Linkage Bridge Program is the 32-kilometer Bataan-Cavite Interlink Bridge across Manila Bay. Once constructed, this is set to be the country’s longest bridge.

With the goal of reducing travel time between Bataan and Cavite from 5 hours to 45 minutes bypassing Metro Manila, it is the biggest and the single most expensive project of DPWH.

The detailed engineering design of the PHP219 billion mega bridge project in Luzon has an accomplishment of 97 percent, with final approval of design plans currently ongoing.

Bonoan said that all the road and bridge rehabilitation efforts along EDSA, which aims to mitigate large economic losses due to vehicular congestion, are proposed for inclusion in the JICA technical cooperation project. This is for large-scale road and bridge rehabilitation, including the rehabilitation of EDSA.

The agency will also continue assisting the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority in road clearing and removal of obstructions as well as promoting active transport by building more bike lanes and pedestrian infrastructure in coordination with the Department of Transportation.

Bonoan also highlighted the collaborative efforts between government agencies, private sector stakeholders, and the community in the successful implementation of the decongestion plan.

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