Kasambagan biz owners, residents protest against flyover

Posted on November 11, 2012

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More voices have been added to the anti-flyover campaign in Cebu City.

At least 100 residents and business owners along F. Cabahug Street in barangay Kasambagan wrote President Benigno Aquino III to protest a plan to build a new flyover on their street.

The site is one of two intersections crossing Juan Luna Avenue (formerly San Jose dela Montana) where former Rep. Raul del Mar is lobbying for two flyovers worth P430 million.

Store owners feared loss of business.

Other residents, including nuns in the Carmelite Monastery and clergy in two Catholic seminaries, worried about vehicle pollution and an unsightly massive concrete structure disturbing the area.

“This is a pretty place to do business and stay. But if we put up a flyover, that will mean cutting down trees. This place will turn into a concrete jungle,” said Henrieta Robins, owner of Robins Home Depot, in a press conference with neighbors.

Their petition to the President said flyovers “have no place in the urban core as they isolate the citizens, contribute to urban blight, disrupt the sense of community and discourage potential customers from availing of local amenities, products and services this slowing down the economic activity in the vicinity.”

They said the goverment’s money should be used for “more relevant” projects like a Metro Cebu Comprehensive Development Plan, better roads and drainage.

 

PUSH THROUGH

“What’s new?” said del Mar in a separate interview.

He was encouraged by the statement of visiting Interior Secretary Mar Roxas in Cebu on Friday that “all flyover projects for Cebu City will push through”.

A moratorium on flyovers in Cebu was declared in September last year by the Department of Public Works and Highways because of strong opposition by heritage and environment advocates, traffic experts, urban planners and groups like the Movement for a Livable Cebu (MLC).

Del Mar said anti-flyover campaigns don’t affect his effort to find ways to decongest traffic

“That (Roxas statement) is a recognition of fact that we need flyovers here because this is what is good for out residents,” he said.

“I understand that the opposition comes from owners of properties along the intersection but the interest of a few has to yield for the common good of the majority.”

Del Mar and his daughter, Rep. Rachel del Mar, are pushing for a “network of seven flyovers” in the north district.

Three have been built so far.

A proposed flyover near the Asilo dela Milagrosa church was stalled last year after fierce opposition from the nuns and MLC members that reached Malacañang.

 

EXCESSIVE COST

In the press conference, Robins said a flared intersection is a better way to deal with heavy traffic there than a flyover on F. Cabahug Street.

She said some politicians push for flyover projects because they were very “expensive”.

While costs appear to reach P1 million per meter, she said, in her more than 20 years experience in construction, the cost should be less than P400,000 per meter.

Kasambagan residents and businessmen with MLC members called the press conference “to deliver our strong opposition to the (proposed) flyover.”

Their petition is addressed to the President, Roxas, DPWH officials, the del Mars, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, and the Kasambagan barangay captain.

At least 100 signatures include that of Fr. Joseph Larda of the Blessed John XXIII Seminary, Sister Mary of the Carmelite Monastery, and business owners of establishments on F. Cabahug St.

It said a flyover is an unsightly infrastructure that would destroy the vista of the neighborhood.

Residents said the Constitutional right of the public to be consulted in decision-making should be respected.

“We are deeply concerned about the resurgence of the plan to build flyovers in the intersection of F. Cabahug and Pope John Paul II avenue, Cebu City. We find it disturbing that despite results of studies that show the ineffectiveness of flyovers at specific junctions, the continuing moratorium that the DPWH has imposed, the decisions of the Cebu City Development Council and the Regional Development Council that dropped the flyover projects, and the people’s clamor for projects that address the immediate need of the city such as flood control, livelihood projects, housing, medical care, but certain politicians insist in pushing the flyover agenda,” the petition said.

 

TARPAULIN

Robins lamented that she only learned about the flyover near her store from media reports and after the Kasambagan barangay council put up a large tarpaulin along the F. Cabahug and Pope John Paul Street intersection expressing support for del Mar’s flyover.

Robins said she put up her own banner opposing it.

“We want to stop them and hopefully they will listen to us,” she sad.

MLC wrote Kasambagan barangay captain Jose Lim yesterday to ask if a barangay resolution supports the flyover project and whether Lim was authorized to sign a letter by the Association of Barangay Councils expressing support for more flyovers in the city.

Joy Martinez Onozawa, an urban planner and MLM member, said Cebu needs a comprehensive development plan to set policies and direct which projects are suited for the city.

She said the DPWH should give a “visual presentation” of how a flyover would affect the neighborhood.

Onozawa said flyovers don’t belong in the city where space is limited but would be suited in the outskirts. She mentioned the Mandaue-Mactan bridge as a “beautiful flyover”.

“Flyovers are for speeding cars and not for those traveling 40 kph,” she said.

She also warned of health hazards from vehicle exhaust.

“Who will spend for people who get sick from carbon monoxide?” she said.

Robins, meanwhile, showed a one-minute video she took of vehicles moving along the Archbishop Reyes flyover between 6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Nov. 8 and 9, Thursday and Friday.

It showed traffic barely moving on one lane of the flyover headed to Gorordo Avenue while the other lane headed for TESDA was barely occupied. /Chief of Reporter Doris C. Bongcac

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