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The Tagaytay transportation predicament

The title of this article is actually a bit tame and on the diplomatic side of trying to describe transportation and traffic in this city that was once relaxed a retreat for many. I had wanted to end February on a good note and so I decided to defer posting this until March.

We used to frequent Tagaytay and liked spending some rest and recreation time there to the tune of being there almost once a month at one time. Needless to say, at the time travel to Tagaytay from our home in Antipolo took us only about 2 to 2.5 hours excluding our usual stop at Paseo in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. We liked the city so much that we even considered making it a second home; even inquiring and looking at properties there.

Fast forward to the present and it has become an excruciating travel with the highways leading to the city already congested. It didn’t help that when you got there, you also had to deal with serious traffic congestion. This started not a few years ago when the city approved developments by major players including Robinsons, SM and Ayala. The developments by SM and Ayala proved to be the backbreakers with Ayala coming up with the first mall in the city and SM operating an amusement park beside its prime acquisition that is the Taal Vista Hotel. Now, there is another mall under construction by Filinvest and right at the corner of the rotonda where the Aguinaldo Highway terminates.

img_4120Vehicles queue along the Tagaytay – Nasugbu Highway towards the Rotonda where Tagaytay traffic enforcers attempt to manage traffic but appear to create more congestion instead.

More on Tagaytay soon…

First call for papers for the TSSP 2017 conference

The first call for papers for the 24th Annual Conference of the Transportation Science Society of the Philippines came out last Wednesday, Feb. 15:

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Addressing concerns about hazardous work-sites along Sumulong Highway

The concern about hazardous worksites along Sumulong Highway that I wrote about earlier this week has apparently been addressed. Here are a few photos of those areas and prominent in the photos are the concrete barriers set up by the contractor with “DPWH” painted on each barrier. These are the same barriers that they mass-produced and were just sitting in the project office nearby and not utilized until very, very recently.

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While these areas still pose significant risks to road users. These are not a continuous barrier with only yellow tape connecting them, and people and vehicles can still easily get through between the gaps. Yet, these will do (for now) and is better than nothing. Perhaps, though, the DPWH and LGUs like Antipolo City can do a better effort to compel contractors to improve safety in work sites like this in order to minimize the likelihood of crashes or accidents.

Opposition to C-6

There had been no significant developments for the Circumferential Road 6 (C-6) not counting the road widening and concreting along the sections at Lupang Arenda in Taytay, Rizal. Meanwhile along its lakeside alignment in Taguig, a 2-lane road has been constructed apparently as part of the widening of the section for what maybe a future 4-lane road with a median island dividing opposing flows of traffic.

img_3866Sign apparently put up by this residential subdivision’s homeowners’ association

img_3865Close-up of the sign shows opposition by the residents to the proposed C6 alignment to pass through their homes.

I haven’t heard or read about anything new or updates about C-6. It seems to be tied to other projects including a proposed elevated tollway along the shores of the Laguna de Bay. The alignment though to the north seem to be unresolved and will definitely be a big concern for many developed residential areas including those in the Province of Rizal.

Hazardous worksites along Sumulong Highway

There are hazardous worksites alongĀ Sumulong Highway. These are related to current drainage works and construction of pedestrian facilities (sidewalks) along the highway. Travelers can see the steel reinforcing bars (rebars) sticking out and posing risks to road users. Following are some photos we took as we traversed the stretch near La Montana, Palos Verdes and Cavaliers Village.

img_3872Highway drainage works along Sumulong Highway

img_3873Steel reinforcing bars sticking out of the drainage works along theĀ Masinag-bound side of Sumulong Highway.

img_3878More hazardous worksites

img_3879Unmanned and unfinished worksite along Sumulong Highway. Pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists seem unfazed by the hazard posed by the rebars.

These pose dangers to most road users and especially motorcyclists and cyclists who may experience a spill that can lead to riders being impaled by the rebars. The contractor definitely is violating safety codes in as far as construction sites are concerned and these are in plain view of the public. The DPWH as well as the local government of Antipolo City should act immediately and decisively in order to prevent untoward incidents concerning such worksites. There should be measures such as physical barriers that would protect road users against such hazards. There are currently none.

Kennon Road – Some photos taken in June 2016

I had not been to Baguio City for quite some time until June of 2016 (last year). And so I took a lot of photos of the roads between Metro Manila and Baguio including the three expressways (NLEX, SCTEX and TPLEX) and Marcos Highway. I have only posted photos of Marcos Highway ( a lot of them) and haven’t come to downloading photos of TPLEX that I have taken during my first time along the entire stretch at the time. To sort of make up for the backlog, I am posting the following photos of Kennon Road that I took almost 7 months ago. I assume most if not all roadworks along Kennon Road that some of the following photos show are already completed. I will no longer write captions for each of the photos but there are many landmarks shown here that can help the reader in his/her sense of direction and orientation. The following photos are of Kennon Road from Rosario, La Union to Baguio.

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More photos from that June 2016 trip soon…

On expressway rest stops

Perhaps the first really nice rest stop long an expressway in the Philippines was the Petron station along the southbound side of the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) that became operational more than 15 years ago (correct me if I’m wrong). Since then, there have been many additional rest stops/stations built along SLEX, NLEX and STAR Tollways. Rest stops have only been recently constructed along SCTEX and TPLEX. We stopped at the PTT station along the northbound side of SCTEX partly to check out their toilets. One colleague had mentioned that one should know which rest stops provided the best facilities in case of a toilet emergency. That, of course, can be a relative thing given the seasonality of traffic as well as the maintenance requirements for such facilities or amenities.

The PTT station did not disappoint as it basically had two options for the traveller – free toilets and a pay alternative. The payment is supposedly considered a donation to a charity supported by PTT. I opted to use the pay toilet (or lounge as some will call it) just so I know if it was worth the 20 pesos they charge. Following are a few photos for the discriminating travelers.

15094904_10153853572931805_2807776175182780994_nWash basins and urinals are currently immaculate. This is understandable for a new facility but I hope they can keep it that way even when there are more traffic along SCTEX.

15036183_10153853572941805_1857682921255381059_nThe toilet seems something like what you’ll find in a top quality resort or hotel with generous space, bidet, and a nice relaxing view of a pocket garden.

15073357_10153853572996805_4814131320765577228_nThere are only 2 toilets in the men’s room. That is understandable since we most likely and often use the urinal instead of the toilet bowls. The ladies’ room should have more of these.

I think it is a big challenge for these stations/rest stops to maintain their facilities especially toilets. The volume of people and the frequencies of use (e.g., flushing, washing, etc.) will ultimately cause deterioration of faucets, water closets, etc. and these are usually free (service) with the station benefitting from the revenues generated by restaurants, shops and gas pumps rather than direct income from the use of toilets.

I would still suggest that rest stops also provide pay toilets and these should be expected to be clean and orderly compared to free toilets. I’m sure people will be willing to pay for this but then that shouldn’t be an excuse to neglect the free ones. Service is still the name of the game and quality service need to be provided by rest stops. Travelers will know about which stops have good facilities and word goes around quickly about comfort room quality among these stations. Of course, that goes without saying that such facilities should be child-friendly, PWD-friendly and senior citizen-friendly.