Caught (up) in traffic

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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 along 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 the 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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2016-06-09 11.36.22 2016-06-09 11.36.46

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2016-06-09 11.57.05

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2016-06-09 12.07.22

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2016-06-09 12.10.28

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2016-06-09 12.22.27

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.

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!

Global Street Design Guide

Here’s another quick post. I just wanted to share this article with a link to a Global Street Design Guide that was developed by the National Association of City Transport Officials (NACTO) in the United States (US). It’s a nice guide that’s based on the experiences of many cities in the US including transformations that have made commuting more efficient, enhanced mobility and, most important of all, improved safety. Following is the link to a more direct link to the guide:

NACTO and the Global Designing Cities Initiative Release Global Street Design Guide

This will be a good reference in the Philippines where many cities are in need of transformation to address current and future challenges in transportation. Planners, engineers and students should read this and use it to make our streets safer and more efficient in terms of mobility for all. It would be nice to see fresh ideas on how we can improve our streets not just in Metro Manila but elsewhere across the country. Of course, it would be nice if city planners of local government units (LGUs) can adopt this design guide parallel with efforts to improve public transport services. It should be understood that simply imposing lane allocations and traffic flow policies (one way?), for example, will not solve problems but may create more. The approach should always be integrated, inclusive. In other words, complete.

Of accomplishments and legacies in transport

My colleagues and I have been talking about accomplishments and legacies. In particular, we had a spirited discussion about what we have been doing in terms of transportation projects that we have been involved in. I think everyone wants to have something physical to remember them by. And these should be positive and constructive and not memories of controversies or anomalies like those in major projects that will be associated with corruption or abnormalities in the processes by which the projects were implemented.

The ‘problem’ with being involved in policy making and planning is that these often lead to outputs such as reports and maybe even laws. If one is lucky enough then perhaps its in the form of a legislation rather than a Department Order. But those legislations and memos often do not acknowledge the people who contributed to its drafting. They will be associated with the politicians (e.g., senators and congressmen) and officials (e.g., secretaries, undersecretaries) who sponsored, co-sponsored or issued them. It will be good to have some sort of evidence to show and prove that you were instrumental in planning, designing and/or implementing a project.

The appointment of a new Department of Transportation (DoTr) Secretary in Art Tugade had me recalling our meeting with him to present the outcomes of our study on a major commercial development at Clark Freeport. He was appreciative of our work and mentioned that Clark had implemented many of the recommendations of the Master Plan we had developed for the Freeport back in 2010. All the major recommendations were implemented during Tugade’s watch at Clark. Following are the most notable ones:

Mabalacat gate B and AThe Mabalacat Gate and Public Transport Terminal of the Clark Free Port Zone

McArthur B and AMcArthur Highway – M.A. Roxas Highway – First Street rotunda

Main gate B and AClark Freeport main gate

The lead for these projects was Dr. Ricardo Sigua who is the one of the leading transportation engineers in the Philippines and currently the Director of the Institute of Civil Engineering of the University of the Philippines Diliman. He is also the head of the Road Safety Research Laboratory of the National Center for Transportation Studies where he is also a Research and Extension Fellow. Others involved in these projects were Dr. Karl Vergel, Dr. Noriel Christopher Tiglao and Dr. Jose Regin Regidor, all from UP Diliman and affiliated with the NCTS.

Sparing the trees

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) embarked on a major road widening project in the last administration. This continues today. One of the issues raised then was the cutting down of many trees along the roadside to give way to one additional lane along each direction of national roads. While conservationists and environmentalists were not successful in provinces like Tarlac where old camachile trees were cut down, the case in Pangasinan seems a bit more positive. Traffic along rural highways such as the Urdaneta-Calasiao-Dagupan Road can become heavy but not so much so that it requires two additional lanes to the original two. As such, while the shoulders can be paved as part of the lane widening program of the DPWH, the trees can actually be spared. I think the DPWH and the LGUs would just need to mark the trees to make them very visible at night time or when visibility is low along the highway.

dagupan-calasiao-urdanetaBig old trees, mostly mango trees line up the Urdaneta-Calasiao-Dagupan Highway along the newly paved lane that used to be a shoulder of this highway. These huge trees are fruit bearing and so one can imagine that part of the loss if these were to be cut down were the tons of mangoes that many people could benefit from.

img_0908Sections of the additional lanes are generally not usable for general traffic and revert to their previous use as parking spaces. These paved sections now also are useful as ‘solar driers’. Shown in the photo above is an example where grains of rice (palay) are laid out direct on the concrete pavement for natural drying under the sun. People (staff of the owners) guard these against animals, wayward motorists and possibly thieves. These staff will gather the grains when there is impending rains or when the day’s almost over to dry another day.

I wanted to take more photos of the highway but was seated at the back of our van so I had to settle for a few select shots. The second photo above is care of a colleague who sat in front and took a few shots himself.