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On walking and the old pedestrian overpass at UPIS

I decided to go for a long walk one day last April. I walked from our office to the UP Town Center, which was just under 2 kilometers away, to purchase something. I could have taken my car or perhaps rode a jeepney but I wanted to see for myself how easy or difficult it was to walk that distance. It turned out that it wasn’t a difficult walk at all. From Melchor Hall, I crossed the street so that I could walk  along the inner part of the Academic Oval. I then took a short cut through the trail in front of Malcolm Hall at the edges of the Sunken Garden, emerging just near the grandstand. From there, I crossed towards Vinzons Hall and then walked towards and along Shuster Street near UP Integrated School. I exited the campus at the portal at the end of Shuster and crossed Katipunan using the old pedestrian overpass that connected the main campus with what used to be UPIS on the other side of C-5.

The pedestrian overpass is an old structure compared to many of its kind around Metro Manila. The design is quite massive considering it is a concrete structure. The photo above was taken towards the direction of UP Town Center.

The steps are quite steep on either side of the overpass

Here’s a photo of a person carefully walking down the steps of the overpass.

The photo above was taken towards the direction of the UP campus.

The overpass used to be dirty, unkempt, and to many was revolting enough that it was rare to find people using it to cross Katipunan. Most people crossed the busy thoroughfare on the ground, often braving the traffic and taking on the risk of getting hit by a vehicle. Since the overpass was integrated with the UP Town Center (i.e., it is physically connected to the mall and there security personnel posted there), more people now use it. MMDA also fenced much of the median of Katipunan in the area and so the only way to cross the stretch of UP Town Center from Shuster to C.P. Garcia is via either of the two pedestrian overpasses (there’s a second, newer steel structure near C.P. Garcia).

As for the walk to Town Center and back, I thought it was safe, convenient and invigorating (nothing like some walking to help in blood circulation). I took a leisurely pace (not brisk) for my walk so I could enjoy the environment. You tend to see a lot of things when you take such walks and the campus is full of activities, sights and sounds, to help make the walk enjoyable such that you won’t even notice the time and perhaps, won’t even mind the exercise.

Another look at Marcos Highway overpasses – Part 3

The overpass at SM City Marikina is a bit more complex than what it looks like across the bridge. Here are some photos of the footbridge connecting the mall with the Santolan Station of Line 2:

img_3460The overpass is a very long one and provides users with a partially covered walkway connecting to the LRT Line 2 Santolan Station. I say ‘partially’ because the roof over the overpass extends only across Marcos Highway.

img_3461Note the covered bridge is only until the other side of Marcos Highway. From there it is an open overpass as shown at the left in the photo above.

img_3462A closer look at the SM Marikina overpass shows just where the cover ends. There are stairs here leading to the loading/unloading bays across from the mall. There is also a path that leads to stairs to the public transport terminal under the bridge. There is a sign with a blue background in the photo stating the terminal is named after a former MMDA Chair who was also a mayor of Marikina and currently one of its congressmen.

Another look at Marcos Highway pedestrian overpasses – Part 2

I purposely didn’t include the overpasses at and near the Masinag Junction because I felt they deserved their own article. For one, the area will be the location of the future end station of the current LRT Line 2 Extension project. Here are a couple of photos of the overpasses in the area.

img_3278Overpass at SM City Masinag – note the tall columns for the elevated tracks of Line 2. Will the Masinag Station be located that high or will it be at a lower level, perhaps closer to the SM City overpass?

The overpass at SM City Masinag is something that has been replicated in many other locations where an SM mall has been constructed. Note the similarity of the situation with the likes of SM City Iloilo, SM City Novaliches where SM built pedestrian facilities to allow for safe crossings between the mall and the area across from it along the highway. In many cases, it is the mall which provided the overpass in coordination with the local government unit and, I assume, the DPWH.

img_3279Overpasses at Masinag Junction – there are actually 4 bridges here, each spanning one leg of the junction.

One of the intents for these is to eliminate at-grade pedestrian crossings at the junction. While crossing have been reduced significantly, there are still many “pasaway” who cross even when there is a green light for vehicular traffic along the leg they are crossing. Traffic enforcers here are quite lax about this and don’t seem to put in an effort to inform people about the overpass. There is no excuse for those who might claim they are too old or weak to climb the steps since the overpass has 4 working elevators for those unable to make the stairs. I noticed though that most of those using the elevators are able bodied people who probably are just too lay to take the stairs.

Another look at Marcos Highway pedestrian overpasses – Part 1

My daily commute allows me to have a look at the progress of the LRT Line 2 Extension construction. I also became curious about the situation of the pedestrian facilities along Marcos Highway particularly the crossings since many at first seemed to be affected by the elevated rail structure that was to be built. Now, we already have a good idea of the fates of these pedestrian overpasses. This article shows the conditions/situation of pedestrian overpasses (also called footbridges) along Marcos Highway. Most overpasses are not covered; exposing pedestrians to the elements. Most are also made of steel, which can be traced to the MMDA’s (and later the DPWH’s) preference for these structures.

img_3227Overpass near Filinvest East-Vermont Park gates – the overpass actually is between a technical college and the commercial building across from it.

img_3228The overpass across from Vermont Royale in front of a new Shell service station was actually among the newest facilities along Marcos Highway. Apparently though, it was built without considering the impending construction and design of the Line 2 extension. As such, the overpass needs to be modified or would have to be reconstructed elsewhere near the area.

img_3229Overpass at Town & Country Executive Village that is also near the San Benildo School

img_3230Overpass at Marcos Highway-Felix Avenue-Gil Fernando Avenue intersection – is probably the busiest among the pedestrian overpasses as it is at a busy junction where there are major commercial establishments (i.e., malls) and where many public transport routes converge.

img_3231Robinsons Metro East overpass – this one also survived the clearance requirements with respect to the elevated superstructure for the Line 2 extension. However, since one of the two stations to be built will be nearby if not right across (part of the station at least) from the mall, then the station itself may function as an overpass.

img_3232Overpass at De la Paz – note the ramp for bicycles and wheelchairs. This is one of the more bike- and PWD-friendly facilities along Marcos Highway. The slope is gentle enough for pedestrians, too, especially senior citizens who might have difficulty with steps.

img_3233Overpass at Ligaya – this one also has ramps that make it easier for people to use to cross the busy highway. This will eventually be the closest overpass to the huge Ayala mall (Feliz) currently under construction at the Marikina side of Ligaya. I suspect that there might be a need for another overpass to be built with respect to the mall for one to directly serve the mall’s customers.

img_3234Line 2 Santolan Station overpass connects the Marcos Highway westbound public transport stop with the rail station along the eastbound side of the highway.

img_3235A closer look at the Santolan Station overpass, which is used by a lot of Line 2 passengers who cross the highway to continue on their journeys/commutes via train from their origins in Rizal, Marikina and Pasig. During the mornings, the observer will see a lot of jeepneys and UV Express vehicles emptying of passengers who cross the bridge to get to the station.

img_3236Santolan footbridge – this is actually more complicated than what is seems in the photo because the steel footbridge also connects to the SM City Marikina overpass (which is not included in this compilation but is visible in the photo). The footbridge branches to provide and almost direct connection between the mall and the Line 2 Santolan Station. That structure is shown at

img_3237Monte Vista footbridge allows people to cross Marcos Highway (at its Marikina/Quezon City end) to and from A. Bonifacio Avenue, which is in Marikina City (Barangka) 

More on pedestrian overpasses in the next post!

Metro Manila Skybridge: for cars or bicycles?

I was browsing over a not so old, pre-election issue of Top Gear magazine and came upon an article that featured then Senatorial candidate and already former Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chair Francis Tolentino. The article stated the former MMDA Chair’s frustration that his pet project didn’t get approval from NEDA. The Skybridge he was proposing was basically an elevated road that was to be built on top of Metro Manila rivers. This is in part to save on RROW costs and supposedly to also reduce traffic impacts of construction (note the traffic congestion due to the Skyway Stage 3 construction).

I think that such a Skybridge could have had a positive impact on traffic congestion but for a short time only. The sheer number of vehicles in Metro Manila will only lead to congestion elsewhere being transferred here and, under equilibrium conditions that will eventually be attained as some time in the near future, will ultimately be congested. The concept of tollways is for people to pay for the use of a facility in return for high level of service (read: faster travel). Skyways and other elevated highways cost a lot and the NEDA probably didn’t see a free use elevated structure like the Skybridge having much in terms of ROI.

There is, however, something that may be worth it in terms of potential congestion reduction as well as enhancement of traffic safety and quality of life – a Skybridge for bicycles and pedestrians. This should encourage people to cycle as travel via such mode will be much safer and could possibly be faster. Friends and acquaintances who are cyclists often post about similar facilities in Europe and how these are able to reduce congestion as people opt to cycle and leave their cars at home during the weekdays.

Throwback to 1995 – Baguio flyover

Baguio retains a special place in me as it is where I did my first out of town project back in 1995. This was  just after I finished my master’s at UP Diliman. The project was Baguio’s first flyover or overpass and it was being proposed along Bokawkan Road, which is then as now a very busy thoroughfare connecting the city to La Trinidad, the capital town of Benguet province. Our task was to determine the best configuration for the flyover including the required capacity for it and the remain at-grade roads once it was built.

I remember it was very rainy when we were there and our accommodations (which was volunteered by our client – their family’s vacation house in the city) turned out to be quite inhospitable. We had to buy blankets and make our own beds as we had practically no budget to stay at a hotel. I recall the house was a bit creepy especially for the last few days I stayed there by myself (my mentor had to go back to Manila) to supervise the traffic surveys at the proposed site of the flyover. That was quite the adventure for me then as I also tried to explore the city on foot. I walked the entire stretch of Session Road when it was still the Session Road (old) people reminisce about. I also walked around neighborhoods in the Gen. Luna area where the house I was staying at was located.

Here are some photos of the flyover now and the area where I supervised traffic surveys together with the bridge engineer who was from Baguio.

IMG_1769The flyover as seen from one of the side streets in the Trancoville district.

IMG_1770A closer look at this almost 20-year structure.

IMG_1771Traveling along the service road along the flyover and towards the direction of La Trinidad. Shown also in the photo is one of the pedestrian overpasses in the city. I actually like the architecture of these overpasses that seems more apt compared to Metro Manila’s steel structures.

IMG_1772I included this photo past the overpass to show how crowded Baguio is already with houses having replaced trees in many mountains and hills. These used to be all green with trees back in the 1990s with only a few shanties that had started to sprout back then. I have other photos of such scenes of houses growing out of the mountains around the city and will share those in another post soon. Such have become the representation of unsustainable development for a city that has become overcrowded and yet continue to attract many people who eventually become residents.

Minimum vertical clearance for railway, flyover, bridge and footbridge structures

Further to the discussion in the last post, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) recently came out with a Department Order providing a guide for minimum vertical clearance for railway, flyover, bridge and footbridge structures. A PDF of the DO may be found in the following link:

Department Order_No. 53_ Series of 2016

Of course, the DPWH Department Order No. 53 Series of 2016 may be found and downloaded directly at their website. Here’s a figure from the DO:

DPWH DO 53 s2016