Caught (up) in traffic

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Monthly Archives: September 2012

Luzon Avenue: Unfinished business

Luzon Avenue stretches from Commonwealth Ave. near Tandang Sora towards the Congressional Avenue Extension and currently ends at Sampaguita Avenue near the Fairview area. It is supposed to be part of Circumferential Road 5’s northern alignment that will connect with NLEX and McArthur Highway. It took quite some time to complete the bridge crossing Commonwealth Ave. and connecting Luzon Ave. to Tandang Sora near the end of the Katipunan Ave. stretch of C5. Issues were mainly on informal settlers occupying the land where the southern foot of the bridge and service road were to be constructed.

While much of the area has been cleared of informal settlers now, the ROW for the area has not been sufficiently cleared to complete the construction of the approach to the bridge. As such, only the northbound direction of the bridge has been opened to traffic as there is no space available for two-way traffic at the southern end where the bridge will ultimately connect to an intersection with Tandang Sora. Following are photos showing the approach at the north end of the bridge.

Approach at the north end of the bridge across Commonwealth Avenue – the south end connects to Tandang Sora Ave. near the University of the Philippines Diliman campus. The south end approach is partly finished and allows only right turns from Tandang Sora towards the bridge or to the one-lane service road that leads to Fairview-bound side of Commonwealth.

Service road – southbound traffic would have to take the service road that leads to Commonwealth Ave. and a short drive to the intersection of the latter with Tandang Sora.

Talipapa? – this area under the bridge used to be occupied by informal settlers and there was a market here that usually spread to Commonwealth, with vendors and customers occupying the outer lanes of the highway during weekends and causing congestion for vehicles approaching Tandang Sora

Remnants – there are still stalls, many of them mobile, selling a variety of goods including food, clothes, bags, plastic items and other commodities found in most wet and dry markets. There is a Puregold supermarket near the intersection on the left side and unseen in the photo.

Exit to Commonwealth – the one lane approach to Commonwealth is sufficient now due to the light traffic but will not be enough once Luzon Ave and C5 is completed, bringing more vehicles to this area.

Views from a landing plane

I like taking photos when I am traveling and have always tried to get some clear shots when I’m on-board a plane, trying to identify certain landmarks like volcanoes and bodies of water or perhaps roads that I could identify from above. Aerial shots are quite tricky with a point-and-shoot even though one can have the benefit of zoom and other pertinent functions digital cameras have these days. On one particular trip I had the fortune of being able to take photos of Mayon Volcano while in another, I was able to take a photo of Taal Volcano. I missed one opportunity to take a photo of the Chocolate Hills of Bohol in one return flight from Mindanao.

The following photos were taken during one flight when the conditions were just right for some clear pictures of roads and then some familiar places as our aircraft approached NAIA.

Roman Highway in the Bataan peninsula – there are many industrial estates and plants along the highway, most having their own seaports.

Ortigas Avenue Extension with Cainta Junction on the upper left of the photo – one of the busiest roads connecting Metro Manila to the eastern province of Rizal, this avenue is often constricted due in part to varying road widths between Rosario and Junction and undisciplined public transport drivers stopping just about anywhere along the road.

Close-up of Cainta Junction, the intersection of Ortigas Avenue and Imelda Avenue (formerly Felix Avenue) – this intersection is usually congested even during weekends as residents in Rizal with workplaces or schools in Metro Manila have steadily increased over the years.

Manggahan Floodway – along the west and east service roads flanking the floodway are thousands of informal settlers. Notice the haze in the background?

The high-rise buildings of Bonifacio Global City and the Makati CBD – Market! Market! is on the right side of the photo. While the photo seems clear, one can see the haze, probably from pollution, in the background and obscuring the buildings further away.

McKinley Hill – development west of Bonifacio Global City and beside the Philippine Army Headquarters. Buildings in the City of Manila are visible in the background/horizon despite the haze.

Philippine Army Grandstand and Parade Grounds at Fort Bonifacio. What looks like a wide green area between the Fort and the Makati CBD in the photo are actually parts of exclusive high-end residential subdivisions (i.e., Forbes Park and Dasmarinas Village).

SLEX, Skyway, and the East Service Road – that’s the conspicuous TESDA building on the right with its inverted pyramid feature.

View of the NAIA Terminal 2 upon touchdown – also known as the Centennial Terminal, this is used exclusively by Philippine Airlines for both international and domestic flight.

Predictability of school-generated traffic congestion

I have written about schools generating much traffic. The same characteristics of trip generation make congestion along streets affected by the schools quite predictable. For example, traffic congestion due primarily to the trip generation characteristics of schools along Katipunan Ave. may be observed during 6:30 – 7:30 AM as well as around 3:30 – 4:30 PM. The afternoon congestion though is exacerbated by the presence of significant truck traffic using C5 as part of their routes. Other cases would have similar predictability and I pointed this out to some guests while we were having a coffee break from our day-long meetings. The following photos were taken in the mid-afternoon and shows congestion along Ortigas Avenue in Mandaluyong City, including along an overpass affected by school traffic generation from a private school (the school is the one with the dome in the photo). Traffic is typically bad between 3:20 to 4:30 PM, after which it subsides until after 5:30 when the afternoon to evening rush from workplaces to homes take over much of the road space.

View of the EDSA-Ortigas intersection showing the start of the build-up of traffic along the left turn overpass to Greenhills on the left side of the photo.

View of the same flyover at around 3:36 PM. Note the long queue along both lanes of the overpass.

View of traffic congestion from the 16F of the building hosting the headquarters of the Department of Transportation and Communications. The overpass featured in the preceding photos is shown with vehicles descending to merge with Ortigas Avenue traffic. Both directions of Ortigas Ave. are congested.

Congestion as seen from the street level. Vehicles descending the overpass are generally bound for San Juan while those on the foreground are bound for the EDSA-Ortigas intersection. Long queues are likely caused by a combination of high traffic volumes and non-optimal green time management at the intersection.

Another view of the congestion at both ground and overpass levels. Traffic is really bad when you have ambulant vendors walking along the overpass to sell their wares (e.g., cigarettes, candies, water, etc.) like what the man on the overpass near the van is doing.

Given the predictability of traffic congestion along this road, many motorists who have a choice or alternate route they can take avoid this road during such periods. Unfortunately, those taking public transport cannot avoid the congestion with passengers thereby incurring delays equivalent to wasted time. Most trips generated by such schools take private vehicles often having low occupancies (e.g., a driver plus a student = 2 passengers per vehicle). Perhaps schools should offer better school services/buses for their students? Or maybe there is a public transport option to be explored here? One thing is for sure and that is people at a young age learn that having cars is better than commuting. Such thinking is eventually carried over to when the same children become adults and an orientation favoring cars over public transport or even walking or cycling that they will eventually pass on to their own children, and so on. Perhaps our schools are in a very good position to influence the developing minds of their students and be responsible in promoting sustainable transport to their students.

EDSA traffic: view from the top

Traffic along Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue (EDSA) or Circumferential Road 4 is quite infamous considering it being a if not the main artery of Metro Manila and carrying much vehicular and passenger traffic between cities like Pasay City, Makati City, Mandaluyong City, Pasig City, Quezon City and Caloocan City where it has major junctions with other major thoroughfares like Roxas Boulevard, South Superhighway, Ayala Ave., Gil Puyat (Buendia) Ave., Shaw Blvd., Ortigas Ave., Aurora Blvd., East and Timog Avenues, Quezon Ave., North Ave., Roosevelt Ave., NLEX and A. Bonifacio Ave., Rizal Ave. and MacArthur Highway.

Shown in the following photos are traffic conditions along EDSA during a holiday, and typical afternoon peak and evening on a weekday. The section featured is the stretch from the Ortigas junction to Camp Aguinaldo. Visible in the photos are the high-rise condominiums along Connecticut Street (upper left) and the developments at the Araneta Center including the Araneta Coliseum in the Cubao commercial district. The green area on the upper right is Camp Aguinaldo, headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), while the rooftops at the right are of houses located in an high-end exclusive subdivision (Corinthian Gardens). In the middle of EDSA is the MRT-3’s elevated tracks.

Photo taken from the 35F of the Robinsons-Equitable Tower shows light traffic along EDSA during a holiday. Traffic probably is similar during Sundays while such volumes may be observed on Saturdays only in the early mornings; before 9:00 or 10:00 AM when the shopping malls open.

Photo taken at 5:44 pm showing traffic congestion on both directions (northbound and southbound) of EDSA including the overpasses at its intersection with Ortigas Ave. An MRT-3 train is visible in the middle of the photo.

Photo taken at 6:16 pm with the headlights and taillights indicative of the traffic density during the early evening. Such congestion now usually extends past 8:00 pm with cases where EDSA is still congested near midnight. Such cases are more common now rather than exceptional.