‘Build, Build, Build’ program contributes to heavier traffic
MANILA, Philippines — As more vehicles jockey for precious space on Metro Manila roads, the government has been rolling out one infrastructure project after another as partial solutions to the worsening traffic problem.
However, the simultaneous implementation of some of these “Build Build Build” projects is proving to be more of a bane than boon to weary commuters, as displaced vehicles are diverted to already clogged alternate routes.
According to the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority’s (MMDA) own count, 16 roads and bridges are currently affected by ongoing projects in the National Capital Region.
Sevilla Bridge, San Juan Bridge, Jacinto-Tomas Claudio Bridge and Araneta-Aurora Bridge have been closed to make way for the Skyway Stage 3 project while Marcos Bridge, Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge, Binondo-Intramuros Bridge, and Lawton Avenue-Sta. Monica Bridge are under construction or rehabilitation.
On the other hand, the following roads in Quezon City have been partially closed for the Metro Rail Transit 7 project: North Avenue, Elliptical Road near Quezon Memorial Circle, Commonwealth Avenue, Regalado Avenue, Mindanao Avenue and Quirino Highway. Add to these the ongoing rehabilitation of Edsa and the reblocking done on weekends.
MMDA traffic engineering director Neomie Recio said most of the affected bridges or roads were in areas that were considered chokepoints: Manila and Quezon City.
In these cities, the alternate routes were mostly secondary roads too narrow to hold thousands of displaced vehicles, she explained. At times, the alternate route for one project ends up being used for another.
“We have been sorely left behind,” Recio said. “We have developed which is why people can afford cars. But the government did not modernize in terms of infrastructure, leaving us to play catch-up.”
While the MMDA understands the long-term benefits of the ongoing projects, it is increasingly worried about the seemingly unabated increase in vehicles in Metro Manila.
“The public transportation here is really, really poor,” Recio said. “So you can’t blame people for buying cars just to escape the tormenting experience of commute. But even being in cars is just as tormenting especially when you’re left to stew in traffic.”
The MMDA said that from January to August this year, there was an average of 405,882 vehicles plying Edsa daily, higher by 22,054 from the same period in 2018.
MMDA spokesperson Celine Pialago paints an even bleaker picture: By December, there will be 487,085 cars in the metropolis.
“The traffic congestion last month was just as bad as it was during the ‘ber’ months last year,” she said in a recent forum. “It’s extremely worrisome.”
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