The future growth of Cebu and the 3rd bridge

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila - The Philippine Star

Last Saturday, Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade was in Cebu assisted by Office of the Presidential Assistant Michael Lloyd Dino to give a fresh information that by the year 2021, the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), cable cars and monorail that make up the Integrated Intermodal Transport System (IITS) for Metro Cebu will be up and running. As Secretary Tugade pointed out, “We are all committed to make the IITS possible. We want partial operability on the BRT, on the monorail, and on the cable system by the last quarter of 2021.”

Call it a legacy by President Rodrigo Duterte who has shown his love for Cebu for supporting his presidency and promised to help Cebu. So finally, Metro Cebu would move forward to a better future and with these mass transit systems in place, we can share with the rest of the modern world when it comes to mass transit system. Call it a positive change from the time of former Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña who only thought of the BRT for a long time. A monorail for Cebu is somewhat unique in the Philippines and I still have to see the working drawings on this when I meet with Presidential Assistant Dino. 

Sec. Tugade made an ocular inspection on the stations of the IITS in Metro Cebu, specifically on the three cities where the IITS would operate — Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu cities. However, Sec. Tugade said the project might well go beyond the term of Duterte, as the completion of the IITS would take more than three years. As of now, the DOTr and its partner agencies are already finalizing the detailed engineering design so that they can begin procuring the budget for the project, which needs to be approved by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

Meanwhile these mass transit projects of the DOTr would still bear fruit in 2021…. which means Metro Cebu would just have to cope with our current traffic congestion problems. If there is anything that the DOTr has totally missed, it is solving our accident problems, which entails a meeting with all car insurance companies and force them to pay for small damages to vehicles involved in minor bumps that cause traffic congestion, costing Cebu a billion per day. So let’s fix this problem ASAP!

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In the meantime, last Tuesday afternoon, I did my second taping of the up and coming Cebu Cordova Link Expressway (CCLEX), a toll bridge spanning 8.5 kilometers that will link mainland Cebu in Cebu City to Mactan Island through the municipality of Cordova. This was my first time to be doing a TV documentary on the construction site. With me on this interview was Allan G. Alfon, president and general manager of CCLEX, vice-president and project manager Herbert Laboy, COWI-DCCD owners engineer Robert Uthwatt, a Briton who explained to me the highly technical issues in constructing this bridge and Cebu Port Authority (CPA) Atty. Jose Mario Tan who has supported the CCLEX project. 

This project is not funded by government money, as Metro Pacific is a major investor through Manuel V. Pangilinan (MVP) at a cost of P30 billion. The CCLEX is Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC)’s first expressway project outside Luzon and first public-private partnership project with the local government units of Cebu City and Cordova. While today we call this project the 3rd bridge it will have two lanes in each direction and will feature the main navigation span twin pylon cable-stayed bridge, viaduct approach bridges in Cebu City and Cordova sides, Cebu South Coastal Road on and off ramps, causeway, and toll plaza. 

The bridge has a design speed of 80 to 90 kilometers per hour, and 51-meter height or navigational clearance to allow large vessels to pass underneath. It can also withstand up to magnitude 10 earthquake and is vessel-collision proof. At this point, this project is 39 peercent done according to Allan F. Alfon. One major feature of the CCLEX is a lighted cross on top of the pylons to symbolize Cebu’s significant role as the cradle of Catholic devotion as the plan is to finish this bridge in time for the 500th Christianization of the Philippines and Asia. 

Just being at the construction of the CCLEX bridge gave me a sense of déjà vu, because when the Fernan Bridge was constructed, I was the Infrastructure Utilities Committee (IUC) chairman of the Regional Development Council (RDC-7) in Region 7 where I took a key role in calling for twice weekly meetings with project contractors, engineers and designers. But that was a long time ago. What I found is the beauty of this bridge is it doesn’t cause or worsen the traffic situation in Cebu or Mactan. Above all, it would give the sleepy town of Cordova future investment opportunities for Metro Cebu, thus a better and prosperous future for Cebu.

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