The Cagayan Valley Road is part of Asian Highway – 26 (AH-26) and the Pan-Philippine Highway. I have had only three opportunities to travel along this road and only once so far was I able to cross into Nueva Vizcaya, Isabela and Cagayan. Two previous trips have only taken me as far as San Jose City in Nueva Ecija. When the chance to travel to Tuguegarao, Cagayan came up one time, I didn’t hesitate to volunteer and opted to take a road trip in order to have the best view of the land and points of interest along the corridor.
Aside from the absence of pavement markings, there is also a dearth of road signs. While it may be reasoned that these are unnecessary due to the light traffic, there are minimum signs and markings required for such roads to guide motorists.
Minimum required signs and markings along curves are shown in the photo with the double yellow indicating no passing along both sides of the road. Signs should, however, be free from obstructions. such as the makeshift fence of houses along the highway.
The solid yellow along the broken white lines states that motorists are prohibited from passing along the lane on the right using the left lane. Vehicles on the left (opposing traffic in this case) may overtake using the right lane.
Sections like this where sight distance is excellent is ideal for passing. Travelers should enjoy the view of the countryside and the mountains up ahead. Sadly, the mountains have much fewer trees after years of illegal logging that have exhausted our timber resources. These have remained generally unaddressed to this day.
Barriers set up by locals to slow down traffic – there are similar others placed on the road by the PNP, the DENR and barangays for various reasons including checkpoints for illegal logs, firearms, etc. While mostly for good intentions, these can become hazards along the road especially at night when the highway is generally poorly illuminated.
Marginal maintenance of roads is quite common where cracks are often addressed by asphalt seals. Several of the chevrons along this section have been taken by vandals with only the posts remaining along with 3 signs.
Poorly maintained section where the pavement already needs to be rehabilitated, i.e., “re-blocking” as it is often called is necessary for many sections where there is also a need to re-assess the base or sub-base layers.
Many sections have large cracks like this section. I took a photo of this also because of the old signs warning motorists of the reverse curve ahead and the speed limit of 30 kph. I doubt that the speed limit is enforced or followed by drivers and riders but the section is even more dangerous because of the plunge on one side and the barriers seem inadequate for preventing vehicles from taking off from the highway.
There are wide shoulders along the road for layovers of truckers and other motorists seeking some rest from a long travel. There are usually stores or eateries here where people can purchase some refreshments.
Trucks parked along the road – there are common areas where truck crews rest or have quick maintenance checks for their vehicles. There are typically repair and vulcanizing shops along these highways.
The shoulder along the outer edge of the highway is wide enough to allow for enough space for recovery or emergency stops. I am not sure though if the barriers are adequate for preventing vehicles from going over the ravine on this side of the road.
The drive along this highway was quite educating with respect to the varying conditions along our roads and the environmental impacts of deforestation. The climates here could have been cooler and the air fresher if the mountains had much more trees than what remained.
Trucks parked along the highway – truck crews generally take rests on long trips and would usually time their travel to factor in the truck bans in some towns along their routes and in Metro Manila as well. It is usually difficult for them to travel continuously during the day as they are slowed down not just by the terrain but by local traffic (e.g., tricycles).
Slow climb – travel can be significantly slowed down by trucks negotiating the slopes. Trucks laden with goods are usually hindered by their loads as they would have to overcome gravity. In many cases, these trucks may be overloaded, making their engines work more to be able to carry their weights.
No signs? – while there are pavement markings along this section, the centerline marking should have been a solid yellow to discourage overtaking prior to and along the curvature, especially since sight distance is very limited by the terrain and the foliage. There should also be traffic signs to inform motorists of the approaching section and to guide drivers as they traverse the segment.
Engineers designed and constructed this section with a roof to protect the road section from landslides or rockslides. One will find similar structures along Marcos Highway on the road to/from Baguio City.
Sign by an organization informing motorists of the view deck along Balete Pass coming up along the road. There should be a standard sign for such attractions along our national roads. Perhaps there is already one erected in the area considering this photo was taken about 5 years ago.
Upon entering the province of Isabela, we decided to take the alternate route to avoid what we anticipated as heavy traffic along the towns and cities including Santiago and Ilagan. I will feature these sections in a future post that will serve as a sequel to this one.