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Plan ahead and well before closing bridges




AFTER several days of relatively easy traffic along Epifanio de las Santos Ave. (EDSA) and other main streets of Metro Manila with thousands of vehicles leaving for the provinces for the Christmas holidays, traffic has again begun to build up with the return of all those private cars and the start of classes last Monday.

More than the usual fears have been expressed for the traffic between Mandaluyong and Makati with the impending closure on Saturday, January 12, of the Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge across the Pasig River west of the Guadalupe- EDSA bridge. The Department of Public Works and Highways will close the bridge for the next 30 months while it tears it down and builds a new and bigger one.

Some 100,000 vehicles use the two-lane Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge every day, according to the Metro Manila Development Authority. It was originally scheduled to shut down last September but it was reopened after only two days because of the public outcry over the resulting traffic. The government will now proceed with the plan to close it down and demolish it to make way for a bigger four-lane bridge. Nearby Guadalupe bridge will have to absorb the additional traffic for a while but then it is also scheduled to be closed for repairs sometime in the first quarter of 2019.

We can understand the need for more and better bridges across the Pasig. Twelve bridges are to be built or strengthened and widened under the “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program of the administration. Traffic planners must plan ahead to minimize the problems that are bound to arise from closing any bridge in Metro Manila.

On the Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge, it has been suggested by some quarters that instead of its closure, it could remain open awhile two additional lanes are built alongside it. Or it could be transformed into a pedestrian or bicycle lane, and a new bridge could be built elsewhere on the Pasig River.

Metro Manila is already notorious for its traffic jams. It truly needs more roads and bridges to accommodate the upsurge in traffic in the last few decades. But it is important that in this building program, due care is taken in the planning stage so that the construction period will not cause too much of a problem for the people of the region.