Trees along Iloilo main road spared from drainage project
ILOILO CITY—Decades-old trees along a main street here have again been saved from a road project.
The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has agreed to redesign a major drainage project so no trees along General Luna Street would be cut, said Councilor R Leone Gerochi, chair of the city council’s committee on public services, environmental protection and ecology.
Parts of the P100-million drainage project would be built under the street, not on the sidewalks where the trees are, Gerochi said. The project aims to address flooding in low-lying City Proper District, especially during heavy rain.
General Luna is a main thoroughfare stretching from the University of the Philippines Visayas campus to Arroyo Fountain in front of Casa Real, the old Iloilo provincial capitol.
Many residents, particularly environmental advocates, have been opposing the cutting of trees along the 1.7-kilometer street for infrastructure projects. They have stressed that the trees have become city landmarks.
The DPWH had earlier sought an endorsement from the city council for the cutting of the trees, as required by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. But Gerochi and other councilors have expressed opposition to the cutting of the trees.
In 2014, the city council, as well as environmentalists and concerned residents, rejected the proposal of the DPWH to also cut the trees due to a road widening project. The plan involved removing about half a meter from each side of a concrete center strip where the trees are planted to expand the road from four lanes to six.
The road widening was continued but the trees were maintained.
Environmentalists have been pushing for the preservation of trees and mangroves amid the massive infrastructure and other development projects in the city. They have insisted that roads should have space for trees and pedestrians and not only for vehicles as a way of mitigating the worsening effects of climate change.
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