The current administration will be able to deliver on its promise to decongest Edsa, the main and busiest thoroughfare in Metro Manila, within the six-year term of President Rodrigo Duterte, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has assured.

Speaking to Palace reporters, DPWH Secretary Mark Villar expressed confidence that the Duterte government can restore the “original capacity” of vehicles plying Edsa every day to 280,000 from the current 400,000.

“Yes, we do. That was the intention,” Villar said in a weekly economic briefing at Palace, when asked if Duterte would be able to fulfill a vow to decongest Edsa under his watch.

“In fact, for the past few years, the President has personally been active in the right-of-way of these flagship projects and nag-assign kami ng mga team para tutukan itong Edsa decongestion project (we assigned teams to focus on the Edsa decongestion project). So, we are confident that by the end of the term of the President, Edsa will be back to its original capacity,” the public works chief added.

Since it was not cost-efficient to “widen” Edsa, Duterte has come up with a “strategy” by pushing for an Edsa decongestion program, which involves the construction and rehabilitation of 13 roads and expressways, as well as 10 bridges in the country’s metropolis, the public works head emphasized.

He said the P384-billion worth of projects will provide alternative linkages between major thoroughfares and raise the number of usable roadways, a move that is seen to address the perennial traffic problem along Edsa and other major roads in Metro Manila.

The road or expressway projects include the NLEX Harbor Link Segment 10; the NLEX Harbor Link R-10 Exit Ramp; the NLEX-SLEX Connector Road; Radial Road 10; NAIAX Phase II; C-5 South Link Expressway; Mindanao Avenue Extension (Segment 2C); NLEX Harbor Link, Segment 8.2; Samar Street; Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3; Southeast Metro Manila Expressway, C-6 (Phase I); Fort Bonifacio-Nichols Road; and the Laguna Lake Highway.

Meantime, bridge projects under the Edsa Decongestion Program include the Bonifacio Global City-Ortigas Center Link Road Project.; the Binondo-Intramuros Bridge; Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge; Pasig River and Manggahan Floodway Bridges Construction Project (3 bridges); and the Marikina River Bridges Construction Project (3 bridges).

‘Drastic, continued’ improvement

Villar said the public can expect a “drastic” and “continued” improvement in Edsa traffic flow following the implementation of the Edsa Decongestion Program.

“By the second half of this year, we will relieve Edsa by 20% to 30%.”

He emphasized that by the second half of 2020, the heavy volume of traffic along the busiest artery in Metro Manila will be reduced by “20 percent to 30 percent.”

“What can we expect sa (when it comes to) Edsa congestion? By this year, by the second half of this year, we will relieve Edsa by 20 percent to 30 percent. Malaki po ang improvement sa Edsa (There will be a big improvement in Edsa). And for the first year starting this year and in subsequent years, we will see continued improvement along Edsa, as per committed by our President,” Villar said.

“We’ll see every year, magkakaroon ng improvement sa Edsa (there will be an improvement along Edsa), drastic improvement,” he added.

Villar said the Skyway Stage 3 will play a vital role in addressing the traffic congestion along Edsa.

“Once the skyway is completed, the travel time from Buendia to Balintawak will be reduced from two hours to 15 to 20 minutes.”

Skyway Stage 3 is an 18.30-kilometer elevated expressway from Buendia, Makati City to the North Luzon Expressway in Balintawak, Quezon City.

Once the skyway is completed, the travel time from Buendia to Balintawak will be reduced from 2 hours to 15 to 20 minutes, he said.

Villar said the DPWH is targeting the opening of Skyway Stage 3 by April this year.

“The capacity of Edsa is 280,000. The volume of traffic today is 400,000. Para ibalik natin sa dati, kailangan nating i-reduce ang traffic (To bring back to its original capacity, we have to reduce the traffic volume) by 120,000 cars,” he said.

“With this project alone, ang expectation namin is almost 100,000 cars a day ang mawawala sa Edsa (we are expecting that almost 100,000 cars will be relieved from Edsa),” Villar added.

On Dec. 10, Duterte ordered concerned state agencies to introduce innovations to untangle traffic jams in Metro Manila.

The Duterte government’s ambitious “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program is seen as a solution to address the crippling traffic congestion in the country’s metropolis.

Some P9 trillion has been earmarked for the implementation of around 100 big-ticket infrastructure projects and over 10,000 small infrastructure projects under the “Build, Build, Build” program.

Around 38 of the 100 flagship infrastructure projects are expected to be completed by the end of Duterte’s term in 2022, while 22 are “partially operational or substantially completed” and the remaining 40 would be finished “beyond 2022.” 

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