Traffic scheme decisions at the SRP

STREETLIFE - Nigel Paul Villarete - The Freeman

The reason many people always argue and debate about what kind of transport we should have or what traffic scheme to implement is because the basic reasons for both may be different for most people and invariably people prefer what serves them best. Let’s leave transport for later and focus on traffic management decisions first. When do we build expressways? Where and when do we build intersections and when do we signalize? When do we allow turning (left, right, or U)? A good case-example would be at the Cebu South Coastal Road (CSCR) --the South Road Properties (SRP) section.

The CSCR has three sections --the viaduct section (includes the tunnel), the SRP section, and the Talisay City section. The viaduct has no intersections, except for its approaches from the north and between the tunnel and the viaduct, which are all merging. The Talisay section is already a city road and thus was already designed with specific intersections in place. The SRP section was designed as an expressway and thus did not have intersections. To accommodate efficient traffic flow from and to the SRP itself, two U-turn slots were built at both ends, one under the bridge to Talisay, and the other at the northern end, under the approach to the viaduct.

Why was this done? We need to realize at the outset that most, if not all transport and traffic decisions are based on economic metrics --which decision will provide the highest economic viability. All projects of the national government, especially those that require NEDA approval were always evaluated and approved based on economic viability. In the case of DPWH, all their highway projects funded under their annual budget also undergo economic evaluation. In short, what the national government approves are projects which give the highest economic benefit to the people. The ultimate determinant is EIRR, or Economic Internal Rate of Return.

The CSCR was built as an infrastructure project and traffic management was not part of its evaluation in 1991. It was planned and designed as an expressway, and evaluated as such, inasmuch as the development of the SRP was yet to be done. When that later started to develop, traffic management measures were needed. What came out as the most efficient and which gives the highest economic benefit are the two U-turn slots at both ends, costing millions of pesos, which eventually got funded.

Of course, for personal reasons, people started clamoring for intersections at the SRP and the one near SM Seaside was opened. Now they’re opening another near Il Corso. Needless to say, both, and any other intersection effectively decrease the economic benefits of the CSCR, to the detriment of the country. These decisions were made without technical, financial, and economic basis, and resulted in the millions of pesos spent by DPWH for the two U-turn slots going to waste. While it might be true that intersections there would be “beneficial” to “some” people, they are detrimental to the economy, both national and local, and to the public, as a whole.

Same as the proposed “rotunda” at SM Seaside, these were “proposed” without the requisite economic viability evaluation and approved by some government officials without basis.

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