The 23-kilometer Edsa becoming as “smooth” as North and South Luzon Expressways (NLEx and SLEx)? That’s no fantasy trip but a concrete reality that can be achieved in two years, according to Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson.
Plans are shaping up for a massive repair work on the country’s busiest thoroughfare whose deterioration over the decades, Singson said, showed that “our road standards have really gone down.”
Singson on Wednesday said consultants of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) had been “assessing the structural integrity of the whole of Edsa, from Monumento (in Caloocan City) to Roxas Boulevard (in Pasay City).”
“We only have 2013 and 2014 to complete the improvements on Edsa,” he said, noting that the highway, which was completed in 1954 (and previously named Highway 54) had been practically neglected by previous administrations.
“Puro patsing-patsing ang ginagawa r’yan (Only piecemeal repairs are being done there),” he said, yet “we can have smoothness that can equal that of both NLEx and SLEx.”
Edsa is proof that “our road standards have really gone down,” he said. “Tinatanggap natin ’yung baku-bako (We are settling for roads full of potholes).”
The secretary, however, said the project still needs approval from the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), which manages traffic on Edsa and could face problems once lanes are closed for repairs, and from the five cities covered by the highway. These include the cities of Caloocan, Quezon, Mandaluyong, Makati and Pasay.
“They’re going to be part of the consultations. To be fair, we have not yet laid down the plan,” he said. Singson was scheduled to meet with MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino on Thursday.
Once approved, the road repairs will only be done on weekends and “it’s not true that we’re closing the entire stretch of Edsa,” he said, adding:
“We will do (road) blockings from Friday evenings to Monday mornings. Each blocking should not be more than 150 meters, and it can’t be closer than 200 meters from one blocking to another. There will be some inconvenience every time we do blockings on weekends.”
Bridges or flyovers on Edsa are also covered by the rehabilitation plan. “The upgrade of Magallanes interchange and its connections is included in the budget allocation. This is a good opportunity to repair them.”
Also, outside Edsa, Singson said the DPWH also intends to “restore Taft Avenue as a major thoroughfare (after it) had been taken over by vendors.” The sidewalks there are now crammed with “illegal structures” that commuters end up waiting for their ride in the middle of the street, he noted.
In an earlier convention in Cebu province, Singson said his agency will “pursue the full pavement of primary roads and bridges nationwide by 2014 and 2016, respectively.”
The target covers 15,872 km of national arterial roads, 15,370 km of national secondary roads and 7,958 bridges with a total length of 345,978 lineal meters, he said.
For 2013, the DPWH allocated P22.8 billion to preserve the existing road network and another P26.2 billion to pave 1,175 km of gravel-type roads. Another P7.9 billion will be used to upgrade bridges.
According to the 2012 Global Competitiveness Report, the Philippines scored a poor 3.1 points in road quality in a scale of 1 (extremely underdeveloped) to 7 (extensive and efficient by global standards).
Vietnam scored a much lower 2.6, while other Asian countries rated as follows: Singapore, 6.5; Hong Kong, 6.2; South Korea and Japan, both 5.8; Malaysia, 5.7; Taiwan, 5.6; Thailand, 5; China, 4.4; Indonesia, 3.5; and India, 3.4.