Numerous studies but job not done
BIZLINKS - Rey Gamboa (The Philippine Star) - July 9, 2013 - 12:00am

One of basic hallmarks of good urban planning is being able to anticipate space demand. For the specific aspect of road building, this means having a good stock knowledge of how many people are using the roads, and more importantly, anticipating how many more will be using them in the future.

If we think about Metro Manila, then implementers of urban plans without a doubt have failed to do their job. This is surprising since there have been multiple studies conducted to solve the traffic problem that besets EDSA and other major thoroughfares of the metropolis, some even as early as the ’60s.

And like the avalanche of comments and suggestions from this column’s concerned readers, there has been no shortage of recommendations penned to solve the problem.

If I remember right, traffic problems were at its worst during the early years of Marcos’ term. C-5 during those days was more a side road that many dreaded to pass because it was fearfully dark at night and often potholed even during summer.

Numerous studies

One of the studies done with the help of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in the early ’70s was the Metro Manila Urban Development Master Plan that, together with other studies, gave rise to the concept of developing a major road network for the growing city.

Aside from the big debate then on an elevated rail or a subway, the idea of cementing six circumferential and 10 radial roads was the hottest topic among our government city planners. This also led to the creation of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) in 1975.

Painfully slow progress

Come to think to it, all these happened about half a century ago, and while C-5 has grudgingly transformed into a major thoroughfare that serves as an acceptable alternate route to EDSA, other identified circumferential roads have not progressed much.

C-1, C-2 and C-3 are still very much the old, tired roads of Metro Manila that are dreaded passageways especially with the kind of rains that we urbanites have been experiencing lately.

C-6, or the Bulacan-Rizal-Manila-Cavite Regional Expressway, is the current darling of city planners, and is currently being constructed. Its end points are the MacArthur Highway on the north and Bacoor, Cavite in the south.

The radial roads have also had their share of problems and disappointments, although there has been significant progress in some arteries. Using EDSA as guide, there are roughly 10 major radial lines cutting through it, starting with Roxas Blvd. that hugs the Manila Bay coastline.

Overall though, progress has been slow and uneven. For example, R-4 or the Pasig River Expressway is disjointed in many places and has obviously not been given much attention during the last five decades. Same goes for R-10 or the planned Manila-Bataan Coastal Road.

No more excuses for P-Noy and his team

It is now difficult to accept funding as a major reason for the slow progress of these arterial roads. With BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer), BOO (Build-Own-Operate), and a slew of other concepts successfully working on the principle of public-private partnerships (PPP), it should be easier to have these projects off the shelf nowadays.

P-Noy and his team should capitalize on its newly-acquired investment grade credit rating to fund these costly undertakings. It’s not just about doing away with the high cost of traffic that JICA repeatedly calculates for us, it’s more about laying the groundwork for the economic take-off that we’ve been dreaming of since the ’50s.

Let’s get the job done. It’s time that the bureaucracy focuses on completing these projects and move on to other equally important infrastructure concerns that will impact on the achievement of P-Noy’s economic goals.

Readers’ suggestions

We have more suggestions on how to improve traffic. This time, our letter sender is Dawn Santos. Here’s what we received:

“I am one of those who are sick of traffic in Manila. MMDA chairman Tolentino has tried to ease the chaotic traffic conditions but on media hype and not on implementing the rules he has crafted like:

“1. Painted the yellow lane for buses/public vehicles – but everybody knows that buses and jeepneys do not stay within these yellow lanes. It was just a waste of money for these yellow lanes.

“2. Designated and wasted motorcycle lanes – these motorcycles do not stay or use these lanes.

“3. MMDA personnel were assigned to monitor the traffic conditions and guide/implement traffic rules. Observation? These MMDA traffic enforcers grouped themselves in four to five or even more and just stay in one place where sometimes no traffic is observed and yet in places where they are needed, they are not there! Is it a rule that they should group themselves in fours or fives or sixes, instead of assigning themselves to several places in ones or twos where there is traffic.

“Sometimes they hide themselves behind trees and then suddenly appear when someone breaks the traffic rule for their kotong.

“Suggestion (and I hope it will be considered): Public transport stops should not be in the intersections – this blocks traffic more. To move public stops should be 500 meters away from intersection. This will not solve the traffic problem but will at least help to ease traffic problems.”

Another reader, Romeo M. Francisco of Tacloban City, sends a few lines on how traffic along EDSA may be eased. Read on.

“1. They should pass through a street crossing EDSA, i.e., through the underpass or overpass. No more traffic lights.

“2. Where there is an overpass or underpass, no left turns. All they have to do is use the overpass or underpass and go straight ahead. Execute a cloverleaf turn to the right at the nearest corner.

“3. This way, cars will simply flow without any interruption. Buses shall have designated stops along EDSA. We have to educate passengers on where the nearest bus stop to their destination is with limited loading/unloading area along EDSA.

“4. Buses loading and unloading passengers in places they are not allowed shall be issued a traffic violation ticket.” (the problem is that some of these buses apparently belong to those who are well-protected!!)

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We are actively using two social networking websites to reach out more often and even interact with and engage our readers, friends and colleagues in the various areas of interest that I tackle in my column. Please like us at www.facebook.com and follow us at www.twitter.com/ReyGamboa.

Should you wish to share any insights, write me at Link Edge, 25th Floor, 139 Corporate Center, Valero Street, Salcedo Village, 1227 Makati City. Or e-mail me at reydgamboa@yahoo.com. For a compilation of previous articles, visit www.BizlinksPhilippines.net.

BULACAN-RIZAL-MANILA-CAVITE REGIONAL EXPRESSWAY CORPORATE CENTER DAWN SANTOS EDSA MANILA METRO MANILA P-NOY TRAFFIC
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