DPWH, Jica eyeing to build second San Juanico bridge
TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte — The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) are studying the possibility of constructing a new bridge that will serve as an alternative to the 50-year-old San Juanico Bridge that connects the islands of Leyte and Samar.
In a statement, the DPWH regional office in Eastern Visayas said among the issues discussed with Jica representatives include the conduct of a feasibility study, route selection, number of lanes, and traffic options for the proposed project tentatively called “San Juanico Bridge II.”
Concerns about the project’s impact on the environment as well as the inclusion of costs for the future operation and maintenance of the bridge were also tackled.
Among those present in the meeting at the DPWH central office in Manila on Nov. 16 were DPWH Senior Undersecretary Emil Sadain, Jica Southeast Asia Division 5 director Takehiro Kido, Jica Philippines senior representative Fukui Keisuke, Jica Southeast Asia Division 5 country officer Yuji Hikikata, and Jica study team head Yuichi Sano.
They also discussed the rehabilitation of the San Juanico Bridge, which was built and funded by Jica in 1973, during the administration of then President Ferdinand Marcos Sr., father of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
Members of the Jica study team for the second San Juanico Bridge project started their first of four on-site visits on the bridge route options on Nov. 17. The second, third, and final on-site studies are set in February, March, July, and September 2024, with the final feasibility study report targeted to be completed and submitted by early December 2024.
The proposed San Juanico Bridge II project, which aims to provide an alternative link between Samar and Leyte and to decongest the iconic San Juanico Bridge, is among the priority flagship infrastructure projects of the administration of President Marcos Jr.
Earlier, the DPWH regional office said the proposed bridge would connect Leyte and Samar via Babatngon in Leyte and Sta. Rita in Samar, crossing over the Janbatas Channel, which is part of the San Juanico Strait. The project’s proposed budget has been pegged at P9.17 billion.
The allocated funds will primarily be used for the construction of the bridge superstructure, substructure, embankment, concrete girders, and relocation of power transmission lines, according to a study by the DPWH and Jica.
The project was tagged as a priority after it passed the 10 percent economic internal rate of return set by the National Economic Development Authority, government records showed.
The proposed bridge spans 1.24 kilometers starting from the village of Guintigui-an in Babatngon, Leyte, and will end in Barangay San Pascual in Sta. Rita, Samar.
The DPWH said that, in 2019, the traffic volume on the San Juanico Bridge was 7,200 vehicles daily, close to its 10,000 daily capacity.
The figure is expected to increase to 10,900 daily, more than its limit, by 2030. The number is expected to reach 15,900 in 2040.
The 2.16-km San Juanico Bridge, which has become an iconic landmark and a popular tourist attraction, was inaugurated by Marcos Sr. on July 2, 1973, on the birthday of his wife, then first lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos, a native of Leyte.
The bridge, however, has been showing signs of wear and tear, resulting in high maintenance costs for the government.