What’s been causing a lot of traffic jams the past week emanating from the Masinag area is the installation of the pedestrian overpasses (or footbridges, if you prefer the term) at the junction. Components of the overpasses were constructed and installed intermittently over several months already. Last Sunday, major works were undertaken including the raising of the main girders that are also to be the walkways for pedestrians. The work entailed closing sections or parts of the intersection and resulted in monstrous traffic jams along both Marcos Highway and Sumulong Highway. The congestion spread to local roads that were used to divert traffic as work was underway during the daytime. Yes, daytime! I found it unusual that such works would be undertaken when traffic was already significant for the two major roads here even if it were a Sunday. Most people had little or no information about this including residents of Antipolo and Marikina who were the most affected by partial closures.
The still unfinished pedestrian facility at Masinag Junction
The pedestrian facility at Masinag junction has four spans that are supposed to cover crossings across all four legs of the intersection. Thus, theoretically, pedestrians may cross any time despite the busy traffic at ground level. I haven’t seen the stairs yet but if they are much like other footbridges including recent ones of similar design, then I would say that they are not that friendly to senior citizens, persons with disabilities and those who want to cross with their bicycles. Then there are those who are just too lazy to use the overpass and instead would just risk it by braving traffic as they cross at ground level. Already, many pedestrians choose to cross the roads a few meters from the intersection (it used to be that they crossed at the intersection) and it will take a lot of education and enforcement to make most people use the footbridges. Meanwhile, Antipolo should ensure that vendors do not set up shop at the overpasses. This facility is for walking and not shopping.
Among the implications of the four overpasses is the need to re-install traffic signals at the intersection as the current set-up is already obscured by the pedestrian structure. Incidentally, that it also why Antipolo City had to assign personnel to manage traffic at the intersection for much of the day. It is expected that the signals will be installed where motorists can easily see them. The pedestrian facility is also expected to enhance safety at the intersection especially for pedestrians as well as ease congestion for vehicular traffic. Call it car-oriented but it is a necessity given the steadily increasing volume of traffic at the junction. Until there is a good public transport system to help reduce the number of motor vehicles on roads such as Sumulong and Marcos Highways, cars and the like will continue to rule our road space. Ultimately, the provision of pedestrian facilities (hopefully, appropriately designed) is a people-oriented endeavor that should be promoted.