Skybridge: MMDA chief’s dream to ease Metro trafficBy Volt L. Contreras
Philippine Daily Inquirer
With a little help from Jessica Sanchez, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino hopes to come up with his best project proposal yet.
The MMDA chief grabbed a YouTube clip showing the Filipino-Mexican finalist during an early round of “American Idol” and used it as an intro for his video presentation about “Skybridge,” an infrastructure project he is pitching to Malacañang, the private sector and riding public.
The video, which Tolentino plans to present in the Palace this May, opens with Sanchez singing “Everybody has a dream.”
“Idol” judges Jennifer, Steven and Randy would probably agree that it was the right song to draw support for something which Tolentino said could significantly alleviate an urban nightmare: Metro Manila’s horrendous traffic jams.
Tolentino, who in February also came out with a 43-page book to better illustrate his brainchild, is pushing Skybridge as a long-term solution, especially for those seeking an alternative to the ever-congested Edsa.
The project basically calls for the construction of an elevated, two-way road right on top – and following the curves – of the San Juan River.
It will be a steel-and-concrete snake stretching for 6.75 kilometers from E. Rodriguez Avenue in Quezon City to J. P. Rizal Street in Makati City. It will also be passing through parts of Manila, Mandaluyong and, of course, San Juan.
The proposed six-lane road (three in each direction) will stand on pillars and towering A-shaped pylons, the latter promising to be a new landmark on the Metro skyline. Motorists coming from ground-level streets can access the Skybridge through strategically located ramps.
“Instead of allowing it to be turned into a dump, we will be utilizing one of our waterways as a traffic solution, like what they’ve done in cities abroad,” the MMDA chairman told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in a recent interview.
The riverbed, which is made of adobe, can support such a massive structure, he said.
“We will end up cleaning the waters as part of the project. And I don’t see any obstruction or right-of-way issues cropping up since it will be right above the river. Construction will hardly cause any traffic jams,” he added.
Without these delaying factors that bugged other major public works projects in the past, “[Skybridge] can be finished within 24 months,” well within the remaining years of the Aquino presidency, he said.
Tolentino said Skybridge may cost between P8 billion and P10 billion, doable through the Aquino administration’s so-called PPP scheme (public-private sector partnerships) for key development initiatives.
He said private contractors, whom he declined to name for now, had expressed interest in the project.
“This has been endorsed by the Metro mayors to the Department of Public Works and Highways,” said the MMDA chief, who attached the resolution signed by the 17 local chief executives as an annex to his book.
When he first broached the idea in the media in January, Tolentino spoke of reducing daily travel time between Quezon City and Makati to 18 minutes or less.
An impossible dream? Perhaps no more if Skybridge can indeed make that arduous crossing from idea to reality, from the drawing boards to the board rooms, and from Tolentino’s “American Idol”-hyped video to the everyday experience of Metro Manila motorists.