Traffic congestion in Metro Manila is costing billions of pesos a day in terms of man-hours and economic opportunities. The daily cost is expected to increase if the government sits idly and offers no solutions.
The administration of President Rodrigo Duterte vowed to improve the traffic situation in Metro Manila with several big infrastructure projects lined up under its “Golden Age of Infrastructure.”
“I don’t know the exact number of percent [of complete projects], but most of the projects are in advanced stages already. We are halfway through,” Secretary Mark Villar of the Department of Public Works and Highways said.
“We will complete all the projects under the Build, Build, Build,” he added.
The government plans to spend P8 trillion to P9 trillion, or roughly $160 billion to $180 billion until 2022 for its boldest infrastructure development program, called “Build, Build, Build”.
“It’s all systems go for Build, Build, Build program,” he said.
EDSA decongestion a priority
Villar assured Filipino motorists about major improvements in the traffic situation in Metro Manila later this year.
“We’ll continue next year up to the point that we finish the project. You can expect definite by the end of President Duterte’s term, there would be an improvement in traffic especially in Metro Manila,” he said.
Villar noted that the completion of four key infrastructure projects in Metro Manila would remove about 300,000 vehicles from Edsa.
“We need to take out 250,000 to 300,00 cars from Edsa daily in order to revert it back to an acceptable level of traffic,” he said.
About 380,000 vehicles use Edsa, the biggest thoroughfare in Metro Manila, daily.
“The Skyway, once it’s completed, will reduce the traffic count by 100,000. When we finish the Connector Road, that is likely to reduce at least 50,000. When we finish C6, we will reduce another minimum of 50,000. When we build the Sta. Monica-Lawton Bridge, that will reduce another 50,000,” Villar said.
The Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3 Project is an 18.68-km elevated expressway from Buendia, Makati City to the North Luzon Expressway in Balintawak, Quezon City.
The NLEx-SLEx Connector Road is an 8-km elevated expressway, extending the NLEx southward from the end of Segment 10 in C-3 Road, Caloocan to PUP Sta. Mesa, and connecting it to the Skyway Stage 3.
Meanwhile, the Southeast Metro Manila Expressway (C6) Project is a proposed 32.6-km toll road that will run from Skyway/FTI in Taguig City to Batasan Complex in Quezon City.
“When all these are finished, we would be able to bring back EDSA to its former state which is acceptable traffic. Rest assured this dream of Edsa is not a dream. It’s come from a point of inevitability. We will decongest EDSA,” Villar said.
A study by Japan International Cooperation Agency updated the daily cost of traffic in Metro Manila at P3.5 billion in 2017, higher than the estimated P2.4 billion based on the previous transport roadmap.
Jica said with the estimated 12.8 million population of Metro Manila as of 2015, the cost would amount to P273 for each resident a day, up from P187.5 for each resident in the previous roadmap.
It said that without intervention, the daily cost of traffic would increase to P5.4 billion in the coming years.
Jica said Metro Manila’s traffic situation was getting worse as traffic demand reached 13.4 million trips a day.
Villar also said that a total of 888.26 km of High Standard Highways/Expressways in Luzon are targeted to be implemented under its Luzon Spine Expressway Network Program, which is more than twice the 382.26 km of existing expressways.
“Once these projects are completed, the travel time from Ilocos to Bicol will be reduced from 19 hours and 40 minutes to 8 hours and 15 minutes,” he added.
He said the government expects to complete the Pozorrubio to Rosario Section of the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway by fourth quarter of this year.
The project will reduce travel time between Tarlac City and Rosario, La Union from 3.5 hours to 1 hour. TPLEX will also be extended up to San Juan, La Union.
The Central Luzon Link Expressway, Phase 1, a 30-kilometer expressway from Tarlac City to Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija also cut travel time from 70 minutes to 20 minutes.
“ We already completed the Feasibility Study for the 220 kilometer Quezon Bicol Expressway. Once completed, travel time between Tayabas, Quezon and San Fernando, Camarines Sur will be reduced by 2 hours,” Villar said.
To jump-start the implementation of Camarines Sur Expressway project, Villar said an amount of P942 Million was already released for the opening and construction of the road section at the Municipality of Minabalac. Travel time between San Fernando and Pili will be reduced from 51 minutes to 11 minutes.
“Expanding our Highways and Expressways will give way to regional development and competitiveness. We will build and lay the groundwork for the 1,049 kilometers of new high standard highways and expressways in Luzon, Cebu, and Davao with a total investment cost of P776 million pesos or 1$5 billion,” Villar said.
The DPWH chief said these projects would help uplift the life of the Filipinos before the end of the Duterte administration.
“We have gone long way since we commenced this journey. Much has been done, but much still needs to be accomplished. We have to admit that as we are already halfway in revolutionizing our infrastructure, new formidable obstacles will surely emerge to impede us, Villar said.
“But we count on to our sworn oath as public officials to give our utmost best and ensure that our people, the Filipino people, will have access to efficient and effective infrastructure facilities. Expect that in the subsequent years, more and more developments will eventually unfold before our eyes, leading us into achieving our vision of a strongly rooted, comfortable, and secure life,” he added.