Just when I thought I’ve experienced the worst traffic jams along Ortigas Avenue Extension (De Castro to Junction) last year, I am greeted with even worse congestion along Marcos Highway as 2012 began. I have featured this highway in previous posts first on August 24, 2011, then in September 2, 2011, again in September 13, 2011, and then as late as December 18, 2011, as I have been able to basically monitor the progress of pavement “re-blocking” and drainage works along this highway (I live in a subdivision along the highway.). The project stretches from the Santolan area near the Marikina River to Masinag Junction, and affecting traffic in at least 4 cities (Quezon City, Marikina City, Pasig City and Antipolo City) and 1 major municipality (Cainta). The problem, it seems to me, is that the contractor seems to be behind schedule and is now trying to make up for lost time by practically digging up entire sections of the highway without first finishing the job in other sections they have already started rehabilitating. In fact, there are sections that already have new concrete pavements that are still inaccessible to traffic despite already over 2 weeks of curing time! The concrete barriers preventing vehicles from using these sections occupy about a fourth of the adjacent lanes, contributing to the reduction of what is already limited road capacities for the high volume of traffic along Marcos Highway.
I am aware of the traffic management plan for the highway as it is posted online at the DPWH website. But this is something that is on paper (or online) and one that seems to have been thrown out the window given the discrepancies with what’s on the plan and what we actually see and experience on the ground. The current work along the highway has effectively turned the stretch from Filinvest East to Santolan into a sort of slalom or obstacle course that has led to much inconvenience to commuters and motorists. Factor in the wasted fuel and the resulting emissions due to the congestion and you have economic losses piling up everyday.
I took the following photos I took one late weekday afternoon only this week as I traveled from Masinag to Imelda Avenue. The photos clearly show the work in progress along the highway that has been that main cause of congestion throughout most of the day.
Beginning of section being rehabilitated with work concentrated on a middle lane in front of the Marian Memorial (funeral) Chapels along Marcos Highway. Note the barriers on either side of the lane and the heavy equipment. Notice, too, the few people working on this section. Vehicles will have to split into two streams, one on either side of the affected lane.
End of the lane mentioned in the previous photos. There is a gap between this affected lane and the next one (start is indicated by the red barrier downstream in the photo) allowing vehicles to weave along sections between work sites. The pick-up in the middle of the photo is doing just that – shifting from the shoulder lane to the median lane.
This is again the end of the section Unfinished section is flooded due to the sudden rainfall that afternoon in the area. Many sections have already been filled with base layer material and compacted. However, I am wondering why the contractor has not poured concrete when I reckon it has already taken enough time for consolidation of the base layer. From the same photo above, you can see the beginning of another section under rehab, but this time two lanes (inner lanes) are closed to traffic on one side of the highway. There are 2 other lanes also closed to traffic on the other side of the median island.
Despite the completion of re-blocking for the median lane, it is still closed to traffic. Meanwhile, it has taken a significant amount of time since they dug up the middle lane shown in the photo and where the section should have been ready for concrete but with the water collecting after the sudden rains that afternoon. Notice the hazards posed by the concrete barriers along the highway.
It is really quite difficult to offer solutions in this case considering so much work still to be done in order to meet the March 28, 2012 deadline posted on the project billboards along the highway. For one, I do not know exactly what the reasons are for the delay of the project (perhaps a delayed release of funds?) and why the contractor has been unable to deliver according to schedule and plan considering the amount of time that was available to them. I do notice that there seems to be not enough people working on the project and that there seems to be no one working during certain times of the day when traffic is supposed to be lighter and fewer people to inconvenience. I did write that the contractor was doing a decent job in managing traffic before including their good use of counterflows. That was months ago and it seems that the saying “you are only as good as your last performance” applies in this case where people will be scrutinizing the current state of traffic along Marcos Highway.
People do expect though that the combined efforts of the MMDA, local traffic enforcers from Pasig, Marikina and Antipolo, and personnel from the contractor to make a bigger effort to ease (manage?) traffic congestion during the critical periods. It’s very frustrating and disappointing, however, that instead of managing traffic or facilitating flow, most enforcers seem to be engrossed with enforcing the number coding scheme alone. This seems to be the case for Pasig and MMDA enforcers posted at Ligaya and the Metro East vicinity. Perhaps number coding should be the least of their concerns when traffic is already constricted because of their failure to manage the jeepneys clogging the Ligaya area as well as what seems to be a breakdown in the coordination among these enforcers and the contractor of the rehab works along Marcos Highway.