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P51-B road projects to ease Metro traffic identified

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PASAY CITY − The Department of Transportation has identified P51.11 billion worth of road sector projects to solve the traffic woes in the metropolis under the proposed emergency powers to be granted to President Rodrigo Duterte.


The Department of Transportation (DOTr) submitted to the Senate Committee on Public Services chaired by Senator Grace Poe, the list of projects it plans to implement from 2016-19 to help address heavy traffic congestion, especially in Metro Manila.


For the road sector alone, the project with the highest cost is the P39.44-billion Metro Bus Rapid Transit Line 2, which will traverse a 48.6-kilometer (km) route that covers EDSA, Ayala, Ortigas-BGC to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). The project’s timeline is 2016-18.


With emergency powers, this particular project is targeted to be implemented from 2016 until the last quarter of 2018, faster than the second quarter of 2020 target date of completion without emergency power.


Second highest in terms of amount is the Metro Bus Rapid Transit Line 1, P4.7 billion, which has a timeline of 2016-19. It will traverse a 12.3-km route from Manila to Quezon City. Without emergency power, its target date of completion is the third quarter of 2021 or later.


Another project is the Integrated Transport System Southwest Terminal along the Coastal Road part in Paranaque City, P3.15 billion. It is projected to start operations by June 2018 with emergency power but without the emergency power its construction is set to start this year but completion date remains unknown due to possible temporary restraining orders (TROs) and injunctions by affected stakeholders.


The South Terminal of the integrated transport system at the Food Terminal Inc. (FTI) compound in the Taguig City, worth P2.2 billion, is also projected to start operations by 2018 if the proposed emergency power is granted but without it, the date of completion of the project is also uncertain.


Also part of the projects for immediate implementation is the improvement of existing national roads worth P1.59 billion.


In terms of policies, DOTr said it plans to rationalize public transport system in the metropolis, map out secondary routes, unify franchising policy, and prohibit bus terminals along major roads.

It also wants public utility vehicles (PUVs) to be modernized and to have enough parking spaces. Additional new emission testing centers are also being eyed along with the transfer of the DOTr Central Office from Mandaluyong City in Metro Manila to Clark Freeport Zone in Angeles City, Pampanga.


For the rail sector, some of the projects include the procurement of new train coaches, extension of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) Line 1 to Cavite, extension of the LRT Line 2 to Masinag, Antipolo and to Pier 4; procurement of new carts and general overhaul of MRT Line 3 to increase its passenger capacity; construction of LRT 4 from Taytay, Rizal to Pureza in Manila, and the LRT Line 5 that would connect Central Business Districts (CBD) in Makati City and nearby areas.


Also, the construction of LRT 7 from North EDSA to San Jose del Monte, Bulacan via Commonwealth Ave.; extension of Philippine National Railways (PNR) North Commuter line from Tutuban in Manila to Malolos, Bulacan and to Clark, Pampanga; extension of PNR South Commuter line from Tutuban to Los Banos, Laguna; and construction of the Mindanao Rail, Cebu Rail, and Central Philippines Rail.


For air transport, the proposed projects to be covered by the emergency power are airport improvements such as construction of exit taxiways, runway overlay and putting up of additional closed-circuit television (CCTVs), improvements in domestic airports to allow night time flights, and decongestion of NAIA traffic.


”Legislation is needed to allow the government to redistribute air traffic while promoting air connectivity in other alternative gateways,” DOTr said.


DOTr also submitted a draft Traffic and Congestion Crisis Act, which states that declaration of traffic and congestion crisis in greater Metro Manila and other highly urbanized areas would be made if the problem “have assumed the nature and magnitude of a national emergency.”


To address the problem, the proposed measure would allow the President of the country to reorganize and rationalize the existing structure of the DOTr, the Land Transportation Office (LTO), Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB), Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) Highway Patrol Group (HPG) and other transportation-related government agencies.


DOTr said the proposed emergency power may last up to three years “unless sooner withdrawn by a joint resolution of Congress.”


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