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The city's traffic problem is not insurmountable

OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide (The Freeman) - January 2, 2014 - 12:00am

   I realize that sending New Year's greetings to people who, in one way of another, touched my life, can be most economical if done thru this column. Hurray. This way too, I will not overlook any of my friends. So, my lovely lady, Carmen and our children, Belynda, Averell, Byron, Beatriz and Charisse, join me in hoping that we have all put behind the trauma of the two recent climactic disasters that devastated our country recently and more importantly in wishing you all a prosperous new year!

One December years ago, I drove from a coffee shop near the corner of EDSA and Ortigas, in Metro Manila, to my home, about four kilometers away. It was the peak of traffic season and I could not forget that horrible experience. I left the parking lot at 8 in the evening and reached home past 12 midnight. It took me more than four hours to negotiate the distance.

I thought that Cebu City would not suffer such a traffic specter. But, the gridlocks that we witnessed in many places of our city in the days leading to Christmas last year, revealed a bad situation. Those incidents showed that we are approximating the traffic horrors in Metro Manila. If national laws are not yet in place to solve this problem, perhaps, the city administration of His Honor, Mayor Michael L. Rama, has to take a least three measures to make sure that ours is a fifteen-minute city. Indeed, there was a time when we could reach any part of our city within fifteen minutes.

One; straighten roads. There are many streets in our city that are unpredictably curved as to defy both aesthetics and symmetry. These roads are the results of the absence of planning. Our city did not enjoy the benefit of forward development planning. Historically speaking, and I mean decades ago, our streets were built to favor families in control of the reins of government. They were landowners also and so roads were constructed to make their assets accessible. Naturally, these streets followed the property lines of favored cows.

If it is accepted that curved roads do not promote easier flow of traffic, then a doctoral degree in urban planning is not necessary to understand that the solution is simple - straighten the roads.

Two; widen roads. Many of our streets were built shortly before or after the Second World War. When they were constructed, there were but very few vehicles. For example, when I was in high school, "jeepneys" were literally kings of Gorordo Avenue because there were not more than ten of them on that street between the corners of Mango Avenue and Escario Street at any given same time. 

At present, there is hardly a space at Gorordo Avenue not covered by a running vehicle in the opening office hours of any weekday morning. There are just too many private cars, taxicabs, PUJ's, multicabs and others. The growth in the number of vehicles has been exponential but this road has remained in its width all these decades.

In this example of a road that has virtually shrunk in its width by the huge volume of users, the solution is obvious. Everywhere you look, the sight remains the same. To widen our streets is a program whose time has come. If, for many constraints, all of these cannot be done at the same ideal time, then prioritizing has become a must.

Three; open new roads. The last time we witnessed new roads being constructed in our city was in the early 90's.  That project was hatched in time of former Mayor Ronald Duterte and then Governor Eduardo R. Gullas but the gestation period was quite long that it was actually implemented in the administration of former Mayor Tomas R. Osmeña. We felt the impact of the new roads then.

For two decades, there has been no city road built. But the increase of the number of vehicle-users has not stopped. It has not even slowed down. For instance, if there were about two thousand taxicabs then, the present number of taxis in the city is believed to have breached the seven thousand mark.

These three theories of straighten roads, widen roads and build new roads have to be adopted by our city officials. Cooperation between the mayor and the dominant city council opposed to his leadership is the call of the day.

BEATRIZ AND CHARISSE CEBU CITY CITY GORORDO AVENUE GOVERNOR EDUARDO R HIS HONOR MANGO AVENUE AND ESCARIO STREET MAYOR MICHAEL L MAYOR RONALD DUTERTE METRO MANILA ROADS
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