Saving our Cebu-Bohol bridge problems
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila (The Philippine Star) - November 21, 2019 - 12:00am

Tomorrow will be the 56th year since the assassination of Pres. John F. Kennedy, a memory that has lasted in my head for all these years. I was serving the holy mass in the main altar of the Redemptorist Church in Cebu City when the priest announced during the homily to pray for the soul of Pres. John F. Kennedy who was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. In those days when radio was the main source of the news, we only heard what was reported on the radio as television was still in its infancy.

In fact the major newsreel I would always watch was when our suppliers from Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM) or Warner Brothers would send their newsreels that is always shown at the end of each movie. Of course 56 years after his assassination, the JFK conspiracy theories have never stopped and in fact these developed into a number of books, documentaries and movies as to who was behind the killing of JFK.

How things have changed in America since the untimely death of JFK. I considered myself a Democrat at that time, although we are not US citizens, but I guess it was because of the Peace Corps that JFK created and they came in droves to the Philippines. Today, Catholics do not want to be associated with Democrats because they approved the abortion of babies as a human right. In America today, you get hefty fines if you kill a bird or a dog or other animals, but killing babies has no penalty in their laws.

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I just got two news reports from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) from Director-7 Edgar Tabacon that the bridges linking Cebu to the provinces of Bohol and Negros Oriental are not included on the new “Build, Build, Build” list. The proposed Cebu-Bohol link bridge and the Cebu-Negros link bridge are not in the revised lineup due to engineering problems. What? Perhaps many engineers working in the DPWH have not heard of the saying that goes, “We cannot get good ship captains training from calm seas!” Indeed, an engineering problem can be solved in many ways. However coming from a Director from DPWH means to us that he has surrendered this project simply because it passes deep waters.

When the DPWH project linking Matnog, Sorsogon to Allen in Samar was scrapped, it was easy to understand that since it was passing through the San Bernardino Strait, it means that the entire project would be passing through deep waters. But I dare you to take a look at the map between Cebu and Bohol and you will see that 70 percent of the project would be passing through many small islands and shallow water. The deep part is between Olango Island and Mactan Island. This so-called “engineering problem” can actually be solved through an underground tunnel beneath the sea. 

I dare anyone in the DPWH or NEDA to Google the Oresund Bridge which is a combined railway and motorway across the Oresund Strait between Sweden and Denmark, which is around  eight kilometers long.  This road project runs from the Swedish coast to the artificial island Peberholm in the middle of the strait. The crossing is completed by the four-kilometer (2.5 mi) Drogden Tunnel from Peberholm to the Danish island of Amager. Work on this project began in 1995 and it was completed in July 2000. Unfortunately, I was in Denmark last May, but since I was on board a cruise ship, travelling by land was next to impossible.

At this point, it is up to NEDA to think hard whether the Cebu-Bohol project is economically feasible… because I already wrote many columns about the economic importance of this project. Also I would like to believe that nations like Sweden or Finland would certainly want to be a part of this project as it is a big-ticket item for these nations. So go ahead and scrap this project as the big loser will be the Philippines as a nation joining the Western world in its infrastructure project.

Finally, while I’m not pleased with the DPWH project, a few days ago they finally reported that my pet project which I call the Parallel Road to Escario St. has finally gotten the approval of the DPWH, which only means that I was right on target as to how to solve the traffic congestion happening along Escario St. But the DPWH used the word “rerouting” when it really is a parallel project to Escario St., not a road to reroute Escario St.

The only problem that remains is that DPWH announced this road project would still be budgeted in the 2021 General Appropriations Act. This means, traffic weary Cebuanos would have to wait another two years before the project can start construction and if the DPWH can finish this in two years, that means this new road would be blessed by a new President because by then the term of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte would be over. At this point I would like NEDA perhaps to fast track this project in the year 2020.

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