Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Skybridge, toll eyed to decongest EDSA

MANILA, Philippines - The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and a party-list group are proposing two schemes to decongest EDSA, one of the metropolis’ major roads.
The MMDA said the “Skybridge,” an alternate highway that would link Makati and Quezon City, is already on the drawing board. The United Transport Koalisyon (1-UTAK), on the other hand, proposed that EDSA be converted into a tollway and motorists driving through it during peak hours would be charged extra.
In an interview over ANC Mornings, MMDA chairman Francis Tolentino said the proposed 8.3-kilometer Skybridge will start at E. Rodriguez Avenue in Quezon City and end near the former Sta. Ana race track in Makati.
Tolentino did not reveal the full description of the plan, saying the MMDA will still pass the design to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for approval.
“In compliance with our urban planning mandate, we will be unveiling a plan which we will be passing to NEDA and the DPWH before the end of the month. We intend to create a new highway that would bypass EDSA,” he said.
Tolentino said the design of the Skybridge would utilize “our current esteros and transform them into a thoroughfare. With it, travel time from Quezon City to Makati would just be around 15 to 20 minutes.”
Charging extra
Melenco Vargas, president of 1-UTAK, said the conversion of EDSA into a tollway would be similar to a scheme practiced in Singapore, wherein motorists are charged upon entering a designated zone in business districts during peak hours.
He said the proceeds of the toll should be used to maintain EDSA, upgrade the Metro Rail Transit and perhaps for the construction of a “second level” of the highway.
Vargas said there should also be a parallel effort to develop alternate routes for those who do not want to pay the toll.
At least 322,936 vehicles pass through EDSA’s 24 kilometers each day, and this number increases by 40,000 during the runup to Christmas. Vargas noted that public utility buses are being blamed for traffic jams along EDSA, though only about 4,000 buses ply this route. He said this figure is not even five percent of the total number of vehicles using EDSA.
“It is but right that those using EDSA should pay for its use and for its maintenance and upgrade,” Vargas said. “Here we will find out also who is really the cause of the traffic as there will be a toll that will record everything.” - By Mike Frialde and Rainier Allan Ronda (Philstar News Service, 

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