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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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More photos from that June 2016 trip soon…

Roads to Baguio: Marcos Highway – Part 3

Still on Marcos Highway, the following photos complete this feature from my most recent trip to a city dubbed as the summer capital of the Philippines. This is the third part of the series on this major road to/from Baguio City, and sections pretty much show very similar characteristics as the previous ones in the preceding posts. Its been a while since the Part 2 of this series and since then, an additional section of the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) has been opened further cutting down travel time between Manila and Baguio to 4 hours.

2016-06-11 11.35.11We start with a series of curves. Here is a section complete with signs and markings to guide and protect road users.

2016-06-11 11.35.40The approach to this curve reveals the uneven terrain on which the road was built.

2016-06-11 11.36.04These row houses and their driveways seem too close to the road

2016-06-11 11.37.41That’s a poorly placed driveway right in the middle of the curve

2016-06-11 11.38.02Many motorists tend to overtake slower moving vehicles via the opposing traffic lane. Here is a bus undertaking a passing maneuver at a curve!

2016-06-11 11.38.19Rockslide – these are frequent along mountain roads such as Marcos Highway. They are even more frequent along Kennon Road and Naguilian Highway.

2016-06-11 11.38.38Yet another section this time showing a reverse curve.

2016-06-11 11.38.58Here are a few more of the big bikes we encountered on our trip down from Baguio. These are of the same group of bikers in Parts 1 and 2.

2016-06-11 11.39.29Many sections of Marcos Highway have excellent sight distance and have usable, paved shoulders.

2016-06-11 11.40.06There is significant truck traffic along Marcos Highway. These, especially the loaded ones, often slow down traffic. In certain cases, trucks form platoons making it difficult to pass them.

2016-06-11 11.40.35I was not surprised to see a school along the highway since there are many communities along the road. This is a good example of standard signs and markings including a pedestrian crossing.

2016-06-11 11.40.57The curve is not a good location for a home.

2016-06-11 11.41.20The pavement at this section is intriguing as the road seems to have had a different orientation in the past. I suspect this was formerly a paved bay (for emergency stops or for loading/unloading passengers) in what used to be an unpaved shoulder.

2016-06-11 11.41.31The position of this driveway is quite risky and motorists from both the highway and the driveway will be blind to each other.

2016-06-11 11.42.01The section shows also what looks like a bay along the inner (left in the photo) side of the highway. Note that the shoulder is rather narrow along the ridge-side (right).

2016-06-11 11.43.10Curve sections like this offer picturesque views but are actually are treacherous. The barriers are supposed to prevent vehicles from ‘flying’ out of the highway. Their designs should arrest large, heavy vehicles that may lose control and collide with the barriers.

2016-06-11 11.43.17Marcos Highway offers many breathtaking views and excellent sight distance along many portions.

2016-06-11 11.43.31This is the final stretch of Marcos Highway that terminates at the intersection with the Manila North Road, which is part of AH-26.

Roads to Baguio: Marcos Highway – Part 2

To open September, I continue on the feature on Marcos Highway. Following are more photos I took on our way back to Manila from a short vacation in Baguio.

2016-06-11 11.27.46Many sections of Marcos Highway have some form of protection against landslides or rock slides. Note the concrete faces fences along the left in the photo.

2016-06-11 11.28.23There are many structures along the highway including houses and stores

2016-06-11 11.28.28The mountain limits sight distance along curves like this.

2016-06-11 11.28.40We encountered this group of motorcyclists heading up to Baguio on what appeared to be what is termed as “big bikes”, that typically are the more expensive ones, too. Other photos in this series will show these motorcycles. I lost count of them while we were traveling the opposite direction. 

2016-06-11 11.29.28This seems to be a popular stop for hungry travelers. The location though and its driveway are not at all desirable from the highway engineering perspective.

2016-06-11 11.29.36Combination of signs to guide motorists along this sharp curve.

2016-06-11 11.29.45Curved sections like this one offer breathtaking views of the mountains.

2016-06-11 11.29.55Shoulders may function as space for emergency stops including for breakdowns or changing tires. Full shoulders allow for stopped vehicles to be completely clear of the traveled way. That is, they don’t pose as obstacles that traffic would need to evade.

2016-06-11 11.30.37More examples of poorly located establishments along a curve

2016-06-11 11.30.52The road seems to disappear in the mountains

2016-06-11 11.31.15Another home along the highway and right at one of the curves. This one seems to be wisely located behind the barriers though its pretty obvious where their driveway is located.

2016-06-11 11.32.45Conspicuous location for a religious site along the highway

2016-06-11 11.32.57More motorcyclists and their big bikes

2016-06-11 11.33.36Barriers along both side of the highway seem sturdy enough to keep vehicles from flying off the road in case their drivers/riders lose control. This section offers enough to satisfy sight distance requirements and noticeably does not feature double yellows like the other photos in this post.

2016-06-11 11.33.54A residential community along the highway including this big house just clear of the shoulder.

2016-06-11 11.34.03Another community including a home atop the mountain. The barriers appear to be newly constructed along with the PCC paved shoulders. These would have to be painted for them to be visible to motorists especially at night-time or when visibility is poor.

More photos of Marcos Highway soon!

TSSP 23rd Annual Conference Proceedings

The 23rd Annual Conference of the Transportation Science Society of the Philippines (TSSP) was held at the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman last August 8, 2016. It was hosted by the National Center for Transportation Studies (NCTS), which for some time was practically inactive in its dealings with the society. The conference was a very successful one with more than 170 participants, mostly students from the undergraduate programs of Mapua Institute of Technology (MIT), De La Salle University (DLSU) and UP Diliman.

The Proceedings of the 23rd Annual Conference contains 22 technical papers, which I have already listed in a previous post showing the technical program for the conference. The link is to the current website of the TSSP hosted by NCTS. Those wishing to have copies of the papers may download them directly from the link. Meanwhile, those interested in the presentations should contact the authors. Their contact information are stated in the paper and it is ethical to get the nod of the authors for their presentation file as these still fall under what can be defined as their intellectual property. I am aware of people who tend to get presentation slides and then pass them of as their work when they use the slides or the data/information therein. There are proper ways for citations of references and sources but sadly such ways are not observed by many.

Roadside views of the Pillila, Rizal Wind Farm

A highlight of our recent road trip to and from Lucena, Quezon via the Rizal – Laguna – Quezon route is the impressive roadside views of the new Pillila Wind Farm. The array consists of 27 turbines, more than the number in Bangui, Ilocos Norte. Following are a few photos of the turbines of the farm which has a total capacity of 5.2 Megawatts. I noticed though that many of the turbines were not running so the capacity is likely not reached and the output highly varies depending on the season and time of day.

There are two access points from the national highway to the wind farm. Via these access roads, one can get near the wind turbines to get photos including ‘selfies’ with the turbines as background, just like those trending photos posted on social media taken at the Bangui Wind Farm.

The Philippines needs more of these clean energy sources. The promotion and spread of such types of energy generation should be able to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. This would be good in the long run and also for transportation since there are already many initiatives for electric vehicles. E-vehicles are not necessarily zero contributors to air quality and ultimately to climate change if we consider the sources of electricity when these vehicles re-charge their batteries.

The engineering blame game and a need for some re-education

A prominent architect was always posting on his social media account about how much of what’s wrong with our infrastructure (especially transport-related) are due to engineers. It was a sad commentary particularly because he wasn’t mentioning anything about the involvement and responsibility of architects in the planning and design of infrastructure. For most projects that fall under the category of ‘planned development’ including mixed use developments like the Eastwoods, BGCs, Nuvalis, MOAs, and other similar projects are planned and designed mainly by a team of architects. Highways and streets are part of these projects and often, engineers are given the task of detailing and in certain cases, analyzing and ending up with the responsibility to justify designs provided to them. So for those types of projects funded or led by the private sector, its probably the architects who have much say in the plans and designs and who should be scrutinized for their shortcomings in as far as sustainable or “green” criteria are involved.

It is a whole different story, however, for public roads, especially those that are classified as national roads. The reality is that many DPWH engineers need to re-tool, learn and practice principles of sustainable infrastructure design. This includes incorporating green or environment-friendly design principles, which includes consideration of the landscape. We met some DPWH engineers in one seminar before on sustainable transport who thought environmentally sustainable transport (EST) was simply environmental impact assessment (EIA) and who proudly claimed they already knew about the topic. I think many engineers and planners in government need to unlearn many things and dissociate their minds from a lot of what they have come to accept as standard, acceptable or correct that are actually sub-par, archaic or flawed. Kapag nakasanayan na at matagal nang ginagawa o ginagamit ay napagkakamalang tama at angkop kahit na sa katotohanan ay hindi.

A good appreciation of history and heritage also appear to be scarce these days whenever the DPWH is involved. Proof of this are the road widening projects in Leyte and Iloilo that now threaten many ancestral houses that are located along the national roads. Many contend that road widening is unnecessary because congestion has not set in along many of the sections that have been widened or are candidates for such projects. It can be seen along many widened roads along Tarlac and Pangasinan, for example, that the problem is not really congestion but poor enforcement of transport and traffic regulations. Such include tricycle operations, roadside parking, and encroachments on the road right of way (RROW).

In most cases its pure and simple analysis that needs to be conducted first. Are roads really congested and requiring additional lanes? The evidence does not seem to support many cases of road widening as data on congestion from the DPWH Atlas itself requires validation on the ground. A recent World Bank study, for example, found that for many national road sections reported as congested in the Atlas, the opposite is true when validated on the ground. Such issues with data that are used as basis for decisions whether sections need to be widened are serious and lead to a waste of funds as well as negative impacts on heritage or historical structures.

The DPWH still needs to do some re-inventing and should actually take the lead in many initiatives. Among these are those pertaining to what are being referred to as “complete streets.” Last week, there was an article in newspapers where the DENR called for pedestrian and bike lanes along roads. The call was not specific to national or local roads but it is something that the DPWH should have already anticipated and working at for roads under it jurisdiction given the outcomes of the International Road Assessment Program (iRAP) project that covered several thousand kilometers of national roads that pointed to the need to improve roads to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists. It is a matter of having progressive or dynamic rather than reactive or static stance at the DPWH and this requires more than just the rudimentary engineering background for the agency to take road planning, design and construction to another level.