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Traffic will be bad but it will soon be much better


TRAFFIC in Metro Manila will be bad before it gets better. We have to face this fact as the government prepares to close down two more bridges for expansion and repairs starting Sept. 15.

The Old Sta. Mesa Bridge, known to many motorists as Lambingan Bridge, from Sta. Ana district in Manila north to San Juan and Mandaluyong, will be closed on Saturday to make way for the construction of a Skyway extension. It will reopen in April 2019.

The Mabini Bridge, formerly known as Nagtahan, connects the Sta. Mesa area around Malacañang south across the Pasig River to Paco. Going north, it turns into the Nagtahan Flyover going towards the extremely busy España Boulevard. Work is expected to last four months until January 2019.

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) General Manager Jose Garcia found it necessary to announce their closure at a press conference last Thursday because of the huge volume of traffic affected. Over 45,000 motorists use these bridges every day. Their closure is expected to affect traffic as far north as Commonwealth Ave. in Quezon City and as far east as EDSA.

Even as these two bridges are closed down, two new ones will be built across the Pasig, financed by a grant from China. These are a Binondo-Intramuros Bridge in Manila and an Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge between Makati and Mandaluyong.

The Intramuros project has been opposed by the Chamber of Commerce of the Philippine Islands, supported by the National Historical Commission which fear it will destroy the historical environment of Intramuros, but the opposition has come up too close to the start of construction. The two new bridges are among 12 planned by the Department of Public Works and Highways for Metro Manila.

There is no doubt that all these new bridges and the repair and expansion of the old ones will help end the traffic gridlock that has made Metro Manila one of the world’s worst cities for motorists, with attendant ill effects on the economy and on the life of its people. But the price we all have to pay is the hideous traffic that will begin in a few days when work begins on the Sta. Mesa and Mabini bridges.

Their closure will worsen the already bad traffic all over Metro Manila. This will be a Christmas season like no other. But we are certain that the people will accept the additional stress and delays, knowing that when the work is over in a few months or so, the old problem of traffic gridlock will be a thing of the past.