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A bridge too far

I’m currently in the Netherlands and after fulfilling my responsibilities here, I decided to go on a trip to Arnhem. Arnhem was the site of one of the more memorable events during World War 2 when the British 1st Airborne attempted to take the Arnhem Bridge as part of Operation Market Garden. The drama that unfolded is told in the movie “A Bridge Too Far” where Arnhem was the titular bridge that was to be taken and held by the British. However, only Lt. Col. John Frost’s 2nd Parachute Battalion made it to the bridge and had to defend it against a superior German force.

My first look at the historic bridge over a river branch of the Rhine

A view of the bridge from the platform in front of “Airborne at the Bridge” 

Airborne at the Bridge is kind of a museum with video retellings of the events pertaining to the bridge. It includes material of Operation Market Garden, which was a massive land and air operation that was supposed to lead to an end of the war in Europe before Christmas 1944. They also have a shop selling literature about Market Garden and the events of the bridge as well as souvenirs.

A memorial to Jacob Groenewoud who helped gather intelligence for the allies during the operations to take the bridge. He gave his life to this cause, falling after being shot by a German sniper.

Airborne Memorial – an old artillery piece is set-up as if targeting the bridge. This was the side the British held until defeated by the Germans after what was a costly battle. The British lacked supplies as ground forces that were to relieve them were delayed at other bridges before Arnhem.

A view from under the bridge

A view of the bridge from the end that was held by the British. There are now bicycle and pedestrian lanes on either side of the bridge, which is now called the John Frost Bridge.

There is a plaque and memorial on the bridge retelling what transpired there in September 1944.

Liberation route marker near the bridge

I had thought about going to Arnhem during this trip in The Netherlands. I am a military history buff and would have regretted it much if I wasn’t able to go to this site of one of the more dramatic events during World War 2. I picked up a few souvenirs at the memorial shop and will remember this experience quite fondly.

Another look at the San Juanico Bridge

We have an ongoing project with the City of Tacloban and recently we went around the northern part of the city where many relocation sites were established after the onslaught of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). After doing our fieldwork, we decided to cross the San Juanico Bridge into Samar island where we were told there’s a nice restaurant sitting atop a hill in the town of Sta. Rita.

Despite the rains, we managed to get some photos of the breathtaking views. Among these were this photo of the bridge as seen from Samar. Leyte and Tacloban are behind the bridge.

It is said that the part of the bridge on the Samar side has that distinctive ‘S’ shape while the Leyte side is a simple ‘L’ form. Trucks are weighed before they get on the bridge and the DPWH maintains a weigh station for this purpose before the Samar end. I didnt notice any from the Leyte side. Perhaps this is because most loaded trucks come via Samar rather that from Leyte?

Traffic along the San Juanico is usually light. This is despite the route being part of the eastern spine or nautical highway that is also part of the Asian Highway network. This leads me to suspect that similar (but longer and more expensive) bridges proposed for connecting other islands are unnecessary and cannot be justified when compared with other more urgent infrastructure projects including those that wil address urban congestion and promote improved mobility. The latter are more urgent and meaningful than massive structures that fewer people will use and benefit from.

Some issues at Barkadahan Bridge

Perhaps one of the worst places to be in terms of traffic during the morning peak is Highway 2000, and particularly the approach to the Barkadahan Bridge that crosses the Manggahan Floodway.  Traffic management at the intersection of the East Bank Road and Highway 2000 is so atrocious that everyone passing the junction would likely incur delays of more than 30 minutes.

The congestion in the area is also attributable to the fact that you have major roads carrying traffic from all over the eastern town of Rizal that are bound for Makati and Taguig (Bonifacio Global City), mostly for offices in those CBDs. These commuters likely use the completed C-6 sections including those at Lupang Arena and the expansion along the Laguna de Bay coast.

Barkadahan Bridge is a 2-lane structure with significant local traffic such as the tricycles in the photos

On either side are narrow walkways and it no uncommon for people to walk on the carriageway itself .

The bridge’s expansion is underway but, from my observation, is taking too much time. Perhaps the contractor is having problems with the foundations for the posts? Or maybe the funds aren’t flowing as required for the effective implementation of the project?

This is an ‘old’ sign now as July 20 is already more than a week ago. 

A lot of people look forward to the completion of the bridge but the bigger issue is still the traffic management at the intersection that is also influenced by factors such as the tricycle terminal near the junction and the undisciplined local traffic. The situation is exacerbated by those who counter flow along Highway 2000 and generally get away with it. Perhaps the Municipality of Taytay should get some help in improving their capabilities for traffic management?

Ortigas Center walkways under construction

Currently under construction at the Ortigas Center are elevated walkways that are part of the Ortigas Greenways Project. Following are some photos I took a few weeks back (they’re old!), and so the current state should show significant progress from what is in the photos.

Elevated walkways are currently under construction at the Ortigas Center. This part can be seen along Julia Vargas Ave. at the intersection with Garnet St.

Structure at F. Ortigas, Jr.

Close-up of the F. Ortigas part of the elevated walkways

Walkway section under construction along the approach of ADB Ave./San Miguel Ave.

Crossing under construction at the intersection of Julia Vargas with San Miguel Ave. (to the left) and ADB Ave. (to the right).

View of the F. Ortigas crossing walkway along the eastbound direction of Julia Vargas Ave.

This project is perhaps one of the most hyped pedestrian facilities in Metro Manila and if I recall right, the concept for this can be traced to workshops conducted during one of the Transport Forums organized by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), whose headquarters are located in Ortigas Center. It took a while to be realized but should be completed soon. This won’t be the first of its kind in Metro Manila as Makati already has one connecting office and residential buildings to Greenbelt and Glorietta. I really do hope it is able to reduce congestion in the area but this would require studies after the facilities are opened for public use. We need more of these around Metro Manila as well as other major cities. We direly need facilities to encourage walking as a preferred mode over motorized transport.

Submersible bridge in Montalban

Last May, we went to a zoo in Rodriguez (formerly Montalban), Rizal. Using Waze for directions to the zoo, the app took us to a submersible bridge across the wide Marikina River from the main highway (M.H. Del Pilar) to the mainly residential area where the zoo was located. Following are photos of the submersible bridge and the newer more conventional bridge located a little further down the highway.

Submersible bridge connecting Barangay San Rafael with Barangay San Isidro

The “all-weather” bridge as seen from the submersible

There are many bridges like this submersible one across the country. Many were built as weirs or dams that could be used as bridges when the water level allowed it but could let water pass above it during wetter days. Incidentally, there’s one along a popular alternative route between Quezon City and Marikina in Tumana. That bridge can be impassable during times of heavy rains.

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.