By Gerard de la Pena, News5
The Transportation Department will build next year a network of elevated walkways in the busiest parts of the capital’s main road EDSA in an effort to ease traffic congestion and ensure safety of pedestrians, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has announced.
Metro Manila, a sprawling megacity of more than 12 million people, experienced a daily traffic gridlock due to its creaking public infrastructure and lack of mass transport system. The administration of President Rodrigo Duterte is addressing the problem through its ambitious “Build, Build, Build” program.
In a statement issued on Thursday, the Manila-headquartered multilateral financial institution said it was ready to fund the EDSA walkway, called EDSA Greenways project, with a $100 million loan, linking the three existing train system as well as allow pedestrians to walk safely in the business centers. It will start construction next year and will be completed within 12 months.
The walkways were designed to encourage commuters to walk instead of taking public transport, reducing the number of commuting public and help decongest chokepoints and bottlenecks along EDSA and other main roads, according to Transportation Undersecretary Ruben Reynoso Jr.
“Para ma-encourage din na kung short distances lang na mga travel nila, maglakad na lang sila kesa sasakay pa ng sasakyan,” Reynosa said in a telephone interview. “That’s basically the purpose. Kasi kung naglalakad sila sa kalsada, o sa baba, nakakaistorbo pa sila sa mga motorista. Nagko-cause ng traffic, maaksidente pa sila, may mga risk din sa health nila.”
The elevated walkways will be built at the intersection of Taft Avenue and EDSA to link pedestrians to the LRT line 1 and MRT 3 in Pasay City and near the MRT3 stations in Guadalupe in Makati and Cubao to link the MRT 3 and LRT 2; and around the Balintawak station of the LRT 1 in Quezon City.
Reynoso, Jr. said the DOTr originally intended to build walkways in Monumento area only but the National Historical Commission has imposed restrictions in creating infrastructures around the Bonifacio monument.
There are currently elevated walkways in the Ortigas business district and an elevated steel walkway in Barangay Kapitolyo in Pasig City.
Those advocating for urban renewal in Metro Manila say authorities have often overlook walkability in transport and urban planning.
Creating wide sidewalks and walkways will encourage pedestrians to walk instead of bringing their cars on short distance trips, while easing congestion on the road.
“It’s more than mass transport,” said Guillermo Luz, private sector co-chairperson of the National Competitiveness Council, who also heads the Sustainable Cities Challenge Initiative.
“I think we should have better sidewalks for instance, clear sidewalks and open spaces for short trips. People can even walk, they don’t have to take a car or a taxi or mass transit all the time.”
Reynoso said the ADB loan will be used for the project once approved by the Investment Coordination Committee and the National Economic and Development Authority.
The loan for the EDSA Greenways Project is part of the $9.1-billion worth of loans extended to the Philippines between 2020 and 2022.
The amount, a record high, will be used mainly for transportation projects, counting among them the Malolos-Clark Railway Project, and the South Commuter Railway Project that will connect Metro Manila to Calamba, Laguna. The other half of the loan amount will go to the social sector, agriculture, public sector management, and sustainable water and urban development, the ADB said. (MM)
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