Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto on Saturday urged the Department of Public Works and Highways to include the construction of elevated walkways in its infrastructure program for the safety and health benefits of pedestrians and those who want to walk in short-distance destinations.
“It is time to elevate wide pedestrian and bike lanes, whether ground-level or elevated, to the league of major construction works,” said Recto.
But the senator emphasized that elevated walkways should not also be constructed around malls and shopping centers in the country.
“[The construction] should not be a mall-to-mall network. It would appear to be an interconnectivity of shopping centers. The walkways should also be built in Tondo, Sampaloc, and Commonwealth area in Quezon City,” Recto said.
Recto said government’s infrastructure and spending plans are silent on elevated walkways because the DPWH is presently focused on four programs—roads, bridges, flood control, and buildings, mostly classrooms.
“They do not even merit a footnote. The policy bias is for people who ride in cars but not for people who walk or bike,” he said.
“For example, in the budget request of the DPWH for 2019, projects sought to be funded were detailed in 1,030 pages of fine print, covering at least 20,000 funding items, but not one was for an elevated walkway,” Recto said.
Recto said it is time for the government to build elevated walkways along the “pedestrian-dense” streets of urban centers like Metro Manila “to respond to the reality that more people are now walking to short-distance destinations.”
“If there are no sidewalks, or if there are but they’re occupied, or are dangerous to walk on, then we should follow the best practice in many cities of building covered, all-season, and safe elevated walkways. Building them do not pose an engineering challenge, and cost-wise are affordable,” the senator said.
“If we have skyways for cars, why not raised walkways for people? If we’re building a subway, then we can surely build a pedestrian walkway above ground. If we have the money for multi-lane highways over hundreds of kilometers, how much more for a one-lane walkway that is 3-kilometers long?” he added.
Recto said a forthcoming $100-million loan from the Asian Development Bank for a greenways project covering six to seven walkways in North EDSA, Ortigas and Taft intersections, when implemented, should demonstrate the benefits of this kind of infrastructure.
In the government’s infrastructure “division of labor,” ports, airports and railways are undertaken by the Department of Transportation; irrigation by the Department of Agriculture; and hospital and health facilities by the Department of Health.