DAVAO PLANS AHEAD OF CEBU

Davao transport study done; Will Cebu City plan need flyovers?

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While a debate swirls in Cebu City  over the wisdom of building  two new flyovers and how to plan a “liveable city,” Davao City has wrapped up a wide-ranging study for urban transportation.

The study was done by a consultancy firm of Dr. Primitivo Cal, the Cebuano urban planner whom  some local businessmen hope to tap to update a  transportation master plan for Metro Cebu up to 2030.

“Davao is already ahead of us in making its master plan,” lamented businessman Bunny Pages, in a meeting earlier this week with a newly formed citizens movement called “Stop Cebu Flyovers.”

The Davao study was done December  2010 to May 2011 by the Manila-based Transport Traffic Planner Inc. (TTPI) for its client, the Asian Development Bank through Almec Corp., according to the firm’s website.  Cal is an associate of the firm

Pages said he is in touch with Cal and exploring how to get the civil engineer-cum-lawyer, who was one of the pioneers of the Metro Cebu Land Use and Transport Study (MCLUTS) made 33 years ago, to return and update the only baseline study of the metropolis.

Meanwhile, Joel Lee, coordinator of the “Stop Cebu Flyovers” movement, said the clamor to find experts to solve urban growth problems should not  overlook the views of citizens who know what they want in a “liveable” city.

“If we accept this clamor and so-called ‘experts’ without much thought, we will soon end up again with many other mega projects built supposedly for us at great cost, but which may not provide us with what we really need or want to have for our community,” he said in  a letter to the editor.

“I dare say that we, the very residents of Cebu, have to be the very consultants we seek. We understand well what we need and want for Cebu: true useable sidewalks, dedicated bike lanes, mass transit on the road, water-based mass transit via the Mactan Channel, more open green spaces, cleaner air, less congestion, better commutes, greater interaction between people, safety for children and persons with disability, pocket forests, nature-based recreational areas and so on.”

“Once the elements of the city we want to have and live in, work in, and enjoy quality life in have been clearly specified, we can then commission the so-called ’experts.’” (Read full letter in Opinion page 10.)

Rep. Cutie del Mar of Cebu City’s north district recently wrote to President Aquino urging him not to listen to critics out to stop the two flyovers worth P600 million because  “more people and groups support the two flyovers than those who oppose them.”

She said the usefulness of flyovers to ease traffic “has been proven” and that  Cebu City cannot wait for an updated  master plan or road widening, which would cost a lot of money and take a long time.

Last Thursday, the Cebu City Traffic Operations Management (Citom) Board passed a resolution rejecting the two proposed flyovers as “extremely inefficient” and “the wrong solution to the wrong problem.”  It also warned of new traffic hazards posed to motorists and pedestrians if the projects push through.

Dr. Cal, in an e-mail to Pages, said he is not recommending a study like Davao for Cebu.

He suggested a study similar to MCLUTS  that would have a Land Use and Transportation Strategy Plan for Metro Cebu up to year 2030.

The planning horizon of 2030 would dovetail with the national government’s National Framework for Physical Planning to year 2030, he explained.

The master plan  would serve as the framework of policies, guidelines, projects and programs to meet short-, medium- and long-term travel needs.

He said the issue of flyovers would be tackled in the   third objective—identifying projects that would immediately ease existing critical transport and traffic problems.

Since mayors and local chief executives have a three-year term of office, they would be more interested in seeing immediate results, Cal said. But it is the output of the strategic planning that would guide long-term development.

The estimated P25-million cost of a full-blown master plan poses a big challenge.  Pages said he hopes this can be obtained by realigning part of the P600-million cost of two new flyovers by the Dept. of Public Works and Highways, and support from the Cebu City government.

If the government won’t fund the study, Pages said contributions could be raised from the private sector.

“The idea is to raise money through a wide coalition if the government would not fund it,” he told Cebu Daily News.

Pages said updating the Metro Cebu transportation  master plan would only take about a year since Cal is familiar with the MCLUTS and the situation in Cebu.

According to the TTPI website, the Davao study aimed to provide a “strategic vision” for an integrated and sustainable urban transport system in Davao and  a framework for feasibility studies of possible transport solutions, including a mass transit system, nonmotorized trasnport facilities, road widening and flyovers.

TTPI specializes in transportation and traffic planning.

Meanwhile, engineer Nonato Paylado, assistant chief for Planning and Design Division of the DPWH-7, said his  office is open to suggestions on how to do a  transport master plan for Cebu City, but said there was a more immediate priority to meet.

“We are obligated to address the needs of the public immediately. If we wait for the master plan, that would take a long time,” he said.

Paylado said that if the private sector is interested in doing a master plan, they can lead it while DPWH would just be a member. He said the two flyover projects at the juncture of Gorordo Avenue and MJ Cuenco Avenue in Cebu City are “very well studied.”

“All our flyover projects are supported with traffic data,” Paylado he said.

DPWH-7 gathered traffic data last August over a three-day period with a 24-hour count of the number of vehicles, which pass in the location of the proposed flyovers.

The agency noted traffic volume and the type of vehicles that pass the area to be able to forecast trends of of normal traffic and the actual traffic cost if the project would be implemented.  Paylado said that they also surveyed the structures that will be affected by the flyovers and road alignments.

“All the necessary data gathering was done to prove that the project is well studied,” he said.

They didn’t include the time interval when traveling along the area before and after the projects are implemented.

“We did not focus on that because it is not necessary,” he said.

He said that even with flyovers in Cebu, traffic congestion would not be solved without good traffic management.

Earlier, Citom head Rafael Yap said the DPWH study whose results were reported in a public forum last month  was “incomplete” and “flawed,” as it didn’t consider the impact in other intersections.

Yap said the data was insufficient basis to make conclusions about the need to build new flyovers.

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