Caught (up) in traffic

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Daily Archives: May 7, 2012

Port Area Roads 1: Bonifacio Drive to 2nd Street

Heading to a meeting at the DPWH’s National Capital Region office one afternoon, I made sure to take photos of the roads en route to their building located across the Sout Harbor’s container terminal and before the (and therefore near) the Baseco compound along 2nd Street.

Bonifacio Drive – this section is part of Radial Road 1 (R-1) and has 4 lanes per direction. It stretches from R-1’s intersection with Burgos (in front of The Manila Hotel) where Roxas Boulevard (the road more associated with R-1) has its north end. Bonifacio Drive has a generous median and the northbound side is lined with trees on either side since Intramuros is on the right.

DPWH Head Office – this is the approach to the median opening for the DPWH Head Office located along Bonifacio Drive. The Head Office houses the Offices of the Secretary, Undersecretaries and Assistant Secretaries of the department. It also houses the Planning Service and Bureau of Design. There used to be a railroad behind the DPWH building when the port area was connected to the railway system particularly to carry freight from the ships calling on the Port of Manila.

Walls of Intramuros – the walls on the right are not The Walls but those of the Intramuros Golf Club, which isĀ  located in the area that used to be the buffer zone before the Walled City, much of which are part of a golf course. It is interesting to note that despite the excellent condition of the pavement, much of Bonifacio Drive does not have lane markings. In the previous photo, the markings are badly weathered. It can be observed that many trucks are parked along either side of the road – a preview of more trucks parked along the curbside in the area.

Approach to the Del Pan Bridge – the bridge is where Radial Road 1 ends and Radial Road 10 begins. We didn’t cross the bridge spanning the mouth of the Pasig River but instead took the service road that led under the bridge to what is technically part of the Muelle Del Rio. The interchange provides access to Baseco and the container terminal as well as for vehicles making U-turns towards the southbound side of Bonifacio Drive.

Service road – keeping to the right of Bonifacio Drive, we took the turn prior to Del Pan Bridge. On the right side is a buffer area prior to the walls of Fort Santiago, which is strategically located at the mouth of the Pasig River.

Reduced capacity – the service road’s capacity is significantly reduced by the vehicles, mostly trucks, parked along the road. I am not sure why this is allowed but toleration of such practices goes to show the lack of adequate facilities for freight vehicles around the Port Area, which is something that needs urgent attention.

More parked trucks – many trucks we saw had trailers and were probably waiting to pick up containers at the South Harbor. Conspicuously, many trucks like the yellow ones in the photo seem to be owned by a few companies, who perhaps have no suitable depots or garage facilities for their trucks. Of course, there is also the constraints brought about by the truck ban being enforced in Metro Manila. But this seems to be a flimsy excuse considering many roads in the area allow truck traffic throughout the day, being designated as trucks routes.

Beneath the bridge – under the Del Pan Bridge, there are more parked trucks. Many are being maintained or repaired and there are informal settlers among the truckers camped out under the cover of the wide bridge. There are also barges lined along the river that also seem to be waiting for their turn to be towed and/or loaded.

Intersection – the channelization at this point along the service road guides motorists to where the road branches out into the Muelle Del Rio (straight) and the segment towards 2nd Street and the ramp to Bonifacio Drive southbound (left).

Muelle Del Rio – the road is supposed to be part of the Muelle Del Rio but is being used as part of the port where cranes load and unload materials unto barges lined along the river mouth. There is a gate structure, which suggests that the area is limited access to general traffic. The road is actually a dead-end.

U-turn – turning left at the intersection had us practically making a U-turn under the bridge. In front of us were more parked trucks as we proceeded towards the junction to 2nd Street. Notice the damaged curbs? These are caused by trucks maneuvering and often hitting the curbs.

Container terminal – trucks lined along 2nd Street included those bound for the South Harbor’s container terminal. The one with the blue container is entering the gate, which entails some clearance procedures conducted by security. Truckers seem oblivious to the general traffic that they block on a regular basis. Our friends from the DPWH state that this congestion due to the trucks is among the complaints they get from their visitors.

More queuing – just when we thought the queue of trucks were only because of the South Harbor’s container terminal, we saw this line of trucks past the gate. The buildings on the right are DPWH’s (NCR and Bureau of Maintenance). There is often no other choice but to run counter-flow to the traffic in order to get to our meeting.

Home free – our driver managed to get through the queue of trucks as truck drivers allowed us to turn towards the DPWH offices after we got their attention and signaled towards our destination.

Return trip block – after the meeting, we had to go back to where we came from as 2nd Street was a dead-end. We were greeted by the same queue that occupied one lane of the road and necessitated for counter flows like the lorry partially covered by the trailer in the photo.

Container traffic – most if not all the trucks bound for the terminal carried containers. I assume these were laden with various goods that are to be loaded unto ships at the port. Those that didn’t have containers were probably picking up freight previously unloaded at the terminal and cleared for transport. I can only imagine what if there was still a railroad line operating to transport such containerized freight. These would have been more efficient for long distance origins and destinations where trucks will only have to provide feeder or collector services (distribution).

Hogging the lanes – as if the queued trucks occupying one lane were not enough to cause congestion, this truck followed the counter-flowing tricycles (Yes, there are tricycles here serving the Baseco compound and 2nd Street.). It was a good thing the 2nd Street’s lane widths were quite generous so it could actually fit 3 lanes. Curiously, there are no pavement markings on the street to delineate the traffic lanes.

Trucks galore – finally getting back on Bonifacio Drive (southbound) to return to Quezon City, we were greeted with more trucks, this time parked along R-1. While traffic was generally light, I couldn’t help but wonder why these practices of trucks are allowed to continue and why such issues have not been addressed by the City of Manila and the Philippine Ports Authority.

Tolerated too? – we spotted these tricycles with the yellow sidecars along Bonifacio Drive. These apparently serve the streets (local roads) in the port area. Tricycles are supposed to be banned from national roads so they should not be traversing Bonifacio Drive nor should they be allowed to have informal terminals here.

Underground economy – vendors and hawkers at the island to the entrance to 13th Street (aka Oca, Sr.) at the Anda Circle (rotonda).

Model roads – past the Anda Circle, the well-maintained section of Bonifacio Drive was complete with lane markings and noticeably clean.

Proof of concept – Bonifacio Drive should indeed be according to standards considering that its just in front of the DPWH Head Office. It would be an embarrassment for the department if the road in its backyard is poorly maintained.