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Lawmaker proposes Malaysian-type tunnel to ease traffic on EDSA

By Lilybeth G. Ison

MANILA, Philippines (PNA) — A lawmaker from Metro Manila has proposed the putting up of a Malaysian-type Stormwater Management and Road Tunnel (SMART) on EDSA to ease motor vehicle travel and help surrounding communities deal with potential flash flooding.

House Deputy Majority Leader and Pasig City Rep. Roman Romulo urged the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to study the feasibility of building under EDSA a dual-purpose tunnel patterned after Kuala Lumpur’s SMART storm drainage and road structure.

“The only option left is to construct a new motorway beneath EDSA, since it can no longer be widened, and we already have the Metro Rail Transit line over the main road,” he said.

Romulo was reacting to the DPWH’s plan, bared in a congressional budget hearing, to build either an elevated highway over EDSA, or a tunnel below it, to relieve traffic.

Malaysia put together its 9.7-kilometer SMART, a key national project, at a cost of US$ 515 million or about P22 billion at the current exchange rate.

“Assembled over four years, their SMART is basically a motorway and stormwater tunnel in one that could be duplicated here,” said Romulo.

Under normal conditions, he said, the two-channel tunnel serves as a motorway for light vehicles.

During the wet season, Romulo said the tunnel has two modes. In the first mode, with light rainfall, some floodwater may be diverted into the lower bypass channel, while the upper section remains open to motor vehicle passage.

In the second mode, in the event of extreme storms, the upper channel is totally closed to all motor vehicle traffic and automated water-tight gates are opened to divert floodwaters.

“We have to change our way of life, even the way we design new roads, if we are to cope with brutal weather conditions, including excessive rainfall and severe floodwaters, in the years ahead,” said Romulo.

Once established as workable, he said the SMART project could be among the ventures lined up for implementation under the administration’s public-private partnership (PPP) strategy.