But the review won’t stop the projects from being implemented, said Emmanuel Rabacal, chairman of the RDC Infrastructure Development Committee.
“It’s already a done deal,” Rabacal told Cebu Daily News.
He said that “legally there is nothing that we can do to stop the projects.”
But he said the results of the new technical working group (TWG), which the committee formed to look into the flyover proposals could be used by proponents for or against the projects.
Public debate has revived on the merits of adding two new flyovers along busy crossroads of of M. J. Cuenco and General Maxilom Avenues and along Archbishop Reyes and Gorordo Avenue, which will cost P600 million.
The committee, in a resolution, said it wanted to see how new flyovers would affect a Japan International Cooperation Fund (JICA) Master Plan for High Standard Highway Network Development, which was completed last year.
A second study, the Development of Public Transportation Strategic Plan for Metro Cebu, is being conducted by the Dept. of Transportation and Communication and is due to be finished next month.
Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, who is RDC-7 chairman, called for an emergency meeting of the IDC yesterday.
Rama is firmly against the two flyovers, and has asked President Aquino to set them aside in favor of road widening and the updating of a transportation master plan for Cebu City.
The DPWH made a presentation of its traffic study supporting the two flyovers in the north district of Rep. Cutie del Mar.
They said their locations were two of the most congested intersections in the city.
Pedro Herrera Jr., DPWH regional director, said flyovers “allow uninterrupted traffic flow in two directions.”
“If you ask if flyovers are needed, I would say yes,” said Herrera.
He said infrastructure projects are identified “not based on what people want but based on what the people of Cebu need.”
Mayor Rama, citing the flyover along A.S. Fortuna Street and Gov. Cuenco Avenue in Banilad, said a flyover doesn’t necessarily solve traffic congestion.
“I don’t know who insisted on the project so we end up with having a flyover there,” said Rama.
He said road widening would be easier if roadside lot owners would agree to maintain a setback.
Rama said Augusto Go, owner of the University of Cebu, has already agreed to a setback for his building along Governor Cuenco Avenue in front of Gaisano Country Mall.
Columnist Bobit Avila, an RDC private sector representative, said road widening projects were already done in many sites of Cebu and Mandaue such as A. S. Fortuna Street, V. Rama Avenue and the New Imus Road as part of the Japan-funded Metro Cebu Development Project 1 and 2.
Mayor Rama said that implementation of the two flyover projects could still wait until a master plan is completed.
“It is not a reason to pursue implementation of the project just because we (RDC) approved its implementation. There are supervening events and we should be guided by the voice of the people,” he told the IDC.
Rama said that RDC should hear the sentiments of the people on the proposed flyover projects.
“There is a problem and we (RDC) must be the solution,” he said.
Efren Carreon, acting director of NEDA-7, said that the proposed Cebu City flyover projects are among 225 infrastructure projects, which the RDC-7 reviewed and approved from 2005 to 2010.
“There was no single opposition at that time, the reason why these were included in the Regional Development Investment Program (RDIP),” he said.
Carreon said the RDC focused on the project’s economic merits during their first review.
“But there is no harm in taking a second look. It is incumbent upon an agency of government to take a second look at the proposal,” he said.
He said that while the TWG study was in progress, project implementation should be put on hold.
“We do not have the mandate to make DPWH stop their work. They can be charged with dereliction of duty if they stop the project implementation,” said Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) general manager Nigel Paul Villarete who sits in the IDC as DOCT representative.
Rabacal said congressional projects like the proposed flyovers no longer need RDC endorsement.
Foreign funded projects, however, require RDC endorsement and a government guarantee
“In this case, na involve and RDC because DPWH listed the flyover projects as among their priority projects,” he said.
The IDC membership approved Carreon’s motion for a “review” of the flyovers without objection.
The TWG will have members from DPWH and DOCT, Avila, Citom, representatives of the cities of Mandaue and Lapu Lapu and private sector represenatives Fr. Mar Alingasa and Jose Mari Bigornia.
Villarete and Herrera begged off from joining the TWG. “My membership in the TWG may compromise our position if we are later asked to do a study on the (vaibility of the) matter (flyover projects),” Villarete told the IDC.
Herrera said he can’t join because the DPWH was implementing the flyovers.
Construction of the substructure, foundation, and posts was already bidded out by the DPWH Manila office.
Bidding for the superstructure or the flyover itself at a cost of P150 million will follow soon.
The remaining P100 million would be spent on acquiring road right of way. Funding for the Gorordo Avenue and Archbishop Reyes Avenye flyover will be made available next year./By Doris C. Bongcac and Edison A. Delos Angeles