Real test comes when other schools re-open:Underpass opens
CEBU, Philippines — Expected to ease vehicle traffic in the south, the 700-meter underpass worth P638 million at the intersection of N. Bacalso Avenue and F. Llamas Street in Cebu City was opened formally yesterday after 22 months of construction.
The opening started with a Mass at 9 a.m., which was attended by officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways-7, Cebu City Transportation Office, and WT Construction Incorporated, among others.
CCTO Operations Chief Francisco Ouano said they decided to open the underpass yesterday to allow an adjustment period over the weekend in anticipation of the influx of commuters in succeeding days as classes in higher levels and private schools resume.
There are at least seven schools along N. Bacalso Avenue alone.
Ouano said improvement in the flow of traffic at the area was noticeable when the underpass was opened but the real test, he said, will be by the start of the week on Monday.
“At 9:30 a.m., gi-ablihan na nato. Nakita nato nga grabe ka baga nga traffic kay nag- anticipate na nga mo-abli na ang underpass (We opened it at 9:30 a.m. Heavy traffic was built at that point as motorists anticipated the opening of the underpass),” he said.
Project Engineer Roy Dela Cruz of the Department of Public Works and Highways also said drivers are still adjusting to the new set-up in the area.
“Nakita nato nga okay ang traffic flow. Nag-adjust pa ang mga vehicles. Sa junction sa F. Llamas ug N. Bacalso, nakalitan ang mga driver kay naan a diay ang traffic lights (We saw that traffic flow has improved. Vehicles are still adjusting like at the junction of F. Llamas and N. Bacalso because drivers did not know there are traffic lights there now),” he said.
Ouano said another aspect motorists have to be aware of is the u-turn slot.
“Nakita nato nga problema is ang u-turn from the underpass. Dili sila pwede mag u-turn sa Tabada street, adto na sa Mambaling flyover (Motorists cannot make a u-turn on Tabada Street from the underpass; they have to do at the Mambaling flyover,” he said.
At least three traffic personnel will man the intersection in the morning to assist motorists and three others will take over in the afternoon.
Ouano said the city will not allow the 600 provincial buses and mini buses to use the tunnel for now to loosen the traffic up in the area but KMK and My Bus vehicles have been allowed to use it because they have franchises from Talisay City to Cebu City and they have bus stops in Barangays Mambaling and Inayawan.
The provincial buses and mini buses can pass through the South Road Properties.
“Ang kaning KMK ug My Bus naay franchise man. Makakuha sila’g mga pasahero diri while katong provincial buses man gud kay point to point sila (The KMK and My Bus have franchises and they can pick passengers up in Cebu City. The provincial buses don’t and they travel from point to point),” Ouano said.
Ouano said public utility jeepneys can use only the side roads but they will be allowed to use the underpass only if they fully occupied so they won’t have to stop at the tunnel.
Ouano said CCTO will implement the “no jaywalking” policy strictly and the truck ban from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., and the speed limit from 20 kph to 40 kph.
Even with the underpass now open, Ouano said the alternatives such as Macopa Street and Bontures Street are still open to vehicles.
It was in August 2017 when construction of the underpass started.
Dela Cruz said the contractor and DPWH will continue to monitor the state of the underpass. He said motorists should not be alarmed if they see cracks at the structure since these are not dangerous can be remedied. — JMO (FREEMAN)