Monday, 13 July 2009

P34.5-B tunnel road on Roxas Blvd proposed

VG Cabuag
Business Mirror

THE Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has proposed an underground route along Roxas Boulevard which would connect Manila’s airports and seaports after projections showed that there will be traffic congestion in the area by 2015, which may also affect movement of cargoes.

The DPWH on Thursday said it sent in May the proposal for a P34.54-billion Metro Manila Tunnel Expressway, which will take five years to construct, to the National Economic and Development Authority. The DPWH completed the study in December last year.

“The most significant benefit to be generated by the proposed expressway is the improvement of accessibility to the [Manila] North Harbor and South Harbor. Since both harbors contain the major transport facilities for cargo movements in Metro Manila, the efficiency of cargo transport would be greatly improved,” the DPWH proposal indicated.

North Harbor is the country’s biggest domestic port, while South Harbor is the country’s second-largest container terminal that also handles bulk cargoes.

Manila Harbour Centre, a private port that claims to handle the biggest bulk cargo in the country, also operates within the North Harbor area.

Phase 1 of the tunnel-expressway project involves an eight-kilometer underground road from MIA Road through the whole stretch of Roxas Boulevard, which will cost about P9.9 billion.

The second phase involves a 20-kilometer stretch from P. Burgos Street to North Luzon Expressway through Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela, at a cost of P24.64 billion.

The funding for the project may come from a mix of international sources, such as those from the multilateral agencies, while the rest will be shouldered by the government.

DPWH Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. said the project envisions cutting travel time from R-10 in the Manila North Harbor to Las Piñas to just 10 minutes using the tunnel.

“The projected expressway connects the northern and southern parts of Metro Manila and will permit higher travel speeds, thereby greatly improving traffic capacity and flow in the north and south direction. This route will serve as a bypass for traffic from the North Luzon Expressway to the port area and further south,’’ said Maria Catalina Cabral, DPWH assistant secretary for planning.

At present, Coastal Road, just one of the few routes going to Cavite province, is heavily congested, and the average travel speed is less than 10 kilometers per hour during peak hours.

“The existing heavy traffic congestion on the Coastal Road has been seriously deteriorating the port-cargo movement,” the study said, adding that the truck ban during peak hours has exacerbated the situation.

“The proposed Metro Manila Tunnel Expressway project is expected to play a key role in achieving more efficient cargo transportation by changing cargo-traffic movement significantly and solving the port-access problem. The completion of the project will allow cargo traffic to pass without being hampered by or adding to urban congestion,” the proposal said.

Cabral explained that traffic congestion in Metro Manila’s 50-kilometer radius will worsen even more as the metropolis’s population and car-volume increase, overtaking the road-network capacity.

By 2015, the population in Metro Manila would have reached 25.72 million and car ownership would have increased to 2.34 million vehicles. (With P. Atienza)

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