Businessmen still questioned the need and practicality of adding two more massive flyovers at a cost of P600 million.
Their sentiments were aired in a public forum held by the Department of Public Works and Highways in Central Visayas (DPWH-7) in Cebu City.
“Why don’t we stop building flyovers and instead hire experts to look at the whole thing and draft a plan for the next 30 years?” said businessman Bunny Pages, a key figure in the lobby group called the Banilad-Talamban Traffic Task Force.
Mayor Michael Rama, task force leader, did not attend the forum, saying he already wrote to the DPWH secretary about his stand for an updated traffic master plan and road widening before new flyovers are put up.
Work on two new flyovers at the junction of M.J. Cuenco Avenue and General Maxilom Avenue and the junction of Gorordo Avenue and Archbishop Reyes Avenue are expected to start this year.
Pages said a master plan would spell out the type of interventions needed to address traffic congestion.
Rep. Rachel “Cutie” del Mar admitted that flyovers would not fully resolve traffic congestion but said it can’t be denied that they have helped open the areas of vehicular and commuter flow.
Her father, former Rep. Raul del Mar, was instrumental in securing funding for the two new flyovers before his term ended last year.
With the flyovers, Del Mar said motorists can cross road intersections and save on travel cost.
She said objections raised to the two new flyovers were the same raised against her father's last three flyover projects.
Cebu City north district has three flyovers—Archbishop Reyes-J. Luna junction, Archbishop Reyes-N. G. Escario junction and Banilad-A.S. Fortuna junction—built during the tenure of Del Mar's father.
“It takes plain common sense to know that crossing a corner is much faster when both directions can cross simultaneously, rather than having one direction wait for its turn as (vehicles from) the other direction is crossing,” said Rep. Del Mar.
She said flyovers are only part of the solution to traffic congestion.
“We also need to open new access roads, build a modern mass transit system, skywalks and set up a good traffic management (system),” Del Mar said.
She said she will seek aid from Transportation and Communications Secretary Manuel Roxas to help Cebu City with its development master plan.
DPWH district engineer Nicomedes Leonor said bidding for the M. J. Cuenco-Gen. Maxilom flyovers is now ongoing at their head office. Each would cost P300 million.
Of the project amount, P150 million, will be spent for the structure itself while the remaining half is set aside for the acquisition of road right of way to widen both sides of the two flyovers.
Leonor said the P300 million for the M. J. Cuenco flyover project was released to the DPWH while P60 million of the P300 million appropriation for the Gorordo Avenue flyover was also made available.
Other stakeholders weren't convinced.
Rafael Yap, executive director of the Cebu City Traffic Operations Management (Citom), said the DPWH failed to determine how the flyovers would affect travel flow in nearby intersections.
Businessman Joel Lee of West Gorordo Hotel asked if the proposed flyover projects were part of the city government’s master plan. He said flyovers are only a Band-Aid solution.
“What do we want for Cebu City? Do we want it to be a city of cars or a city of people? Let us focus on the mass transit system. Let’s focus on the use of bicycles,” he said.
Councilor Margot Osmeña said her husband, former mayor and now Rep. Tomas Osmeña, is pushing for the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system as a mode of sustainable mass transportation in the city.
Sister Rena of Immaculada said the road should be widened along Gorordo Avenue before the flyover is built.
The religious order voiced concern that the planned Gorordo Avenue flyover near their school would affect access to the nearby Perpetual Succour Hospital.
Rep. Del Mar said the national government has only given funding for the two flyover projects. /By Doris C. Bongcac, Chief of Reporters