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Central Luzon Link Expressway (CLLEx)
The recently opened Central Luzon Link Expressway (CLLEx) is a freeway spanning the provinces of Tarlac and Nueva Ecija towards the Cagayan Valley side of Luzon. With the ends at Tarlac City, Tarlac and San Jose City, Nueva Ecija, Phase 1 currently terminates at Aliaga town; connecting to the Guimba-Aliaga Road. That is 18 kilometers of the planned 30.7 kilometers of the first phase, which is to end at Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija. Here are some photos taken by colleagues as they traveled to Tuguegarao this weekend.
Section of SCTEX leading to the junction where the road branches to either the TPLEX or the CLLEx. SCTEX is a tollway operated by Metro Pacific via its Manila North Tollways Corp. while TPLEX is a tollway operated by San Miguel Corp. CLLEx is currently a freeway under the DPWH.
SCTEX off-ramps to CLLEx (left) or Tarlac City (right)
The expressway currently has 2 lanes per direction plus shoulder along either direction. The median barrier is a post & rail semi-rigid structure.
Many of the traffic signs have yet to be installed
Not so much traffic along the freeway as shown in the photos. These were taken on a Sunday though and we wonder if there will be more vehicles during the weekdays.
As the freeway is still uncompleted, the end section in Nueva Ecija is two lane-two way with only cones and bollards separating opposing traffic.
Exit ramp towards the Guimba-Aliaga Road
There are no stops yet along the freeway. I am not aware if there is a timetable for it to become a tollway. Traffic is still quite low so perhaps making it a tollway will take some time as it might be difficult to have a profitable operation. It would be good to have it as a limited access freeway to establish demand and use for the road.
On addressing global warming
Here is another quick share of an article; this time on “warming”. The evidence for global warming is strong and we need to address this pressing issue if future generations are to survive a planet that is heating up fast.
Litman, T. (August 31, 2022) “Cool Planning for a Hotter Future,” Planetizen.com, https://www.planetizen.com/blogs/118535-cool-planning-hotter-future?utm_source=newswire&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=news-09012022&mc_cid=ead7ee914a&mc_eid=9ccfe464b1 [Last accessed: 9/5/2022]
“Many of these strategies provide significant co-benefits. For example, reducing road and parking supply with more efficient traffic and parking management helps reduce infrastructure costs and traffic problems, and by reducing impervious surface area it reduces stormwater management costs. Planting more urban shade trees helps create more attractive neighborhoods and increase wildlife habitat. Improving natural ventilation creates more comfortable and healthier buildings, as summarized below.”
I recall people calling for more trees to be planted along roads and how our city streets can become something like Orchard Road in Singapore. I agree with having more trees and other plants, landscaping, along our roads. I also lament the times (and it continues) when the DPWH chopped so many old trees along national roads for road widening projects that didn’t need to destroy so many that gave those roads shade as well as character. We need more change in mindsets particularly when we design highways and streets towards sustainability and yes- reducing heat.
The wide Roman Highway, Bataan
As it is National Heroes Day today, I thought it would be nice to feature a road in an area that witnessed the experiences and sacrifices of many heroes. I traveled to Bataan last July and took some photos of the roads there including the Roman Highway, which is the main corridor connecting many of the province’s major towns. Also called the Roman Superhighway, the highway originally had 2 lanes (bi-directional and undivided) with shoulders along both side of the road. Eventually, it was widened and extended to 4 lanes (2 per direction) with wide shoulders. The current Roman Highway has been expanded to 6 lanes with shoulders but for most parts appear to effectively have only 4 lanes and paved shoulders.
The wide Roman Highway does not carry much vehicular traffic
The road widening is not complete as most bridges have not been widened. These produce bottlenecks like the one in the photo where the additional lane is effectively relegated to a shoulder.
The highway is practically straight but presents many examples of sags and crests. For those into highway engineering, images like the ones I share in this post are textbook examples for sight distance topics.
Another sag vertical curve with a bridge near or at the lowest point in the sag. Again, notice that the additional lanes are currently discontinuous at the bridge and there’s a barrier (orange) to warn motorists and guide them back to the original carriageway.
The highway is used by many trucks as there are industrial centers located along the highway including the PNOC in Limay and what used to be called the Bataan Export Processing Zone (BEPZ now the Bataan Freeport) at the end of the highway in Mariveles.
The widening of the Roman Highway includes the addition of one lane per direction and a narrow shoulder just before the sidewalks. The shoulder could easily be configured into a bike lane but that third lane can easily be designated for bicycles considering the traffic is usually light at most sections of the highway.
A section where the bridge has already been widened features 3 wide lanes per direction. The shoulders are still there but are not included in the bridge.
LGUs are joining the No-Contact Apprehension bandwagon
Another view of the wide highway
More on Bataan roads in a future post. I also took photos of the Gov. J.J. Linao National Road (Pilar – Bagac Road), which is the main access road to the Mt. Samat Shrine.
Some old drawing tools for clothoids
I took some photos of old (vintage if you prefer) drawing tools that I have at our laboratory at the university. We found this in the storage many years ago and people seem to have forgotten about them. Instead of heading for storage or being forgotten or worse, thrown away, we decided to keep them at our laboratory mainly to show our students how certain highway or street curves were drawn in the ‘old days’. I am currently the custodian of this and another set that I have kept at my other office at the civil engineering building.
The wooden box is at my office at UP Diliman
The sign basically translates to clothoid drawing tools made by a company based in Setagaya in Tokyo. There are 14 instruments in the box for clothoid parameter values of A = 20m to 350m.
Opening the box shows slots holding instruments for drawing clothoids or spiral curves
Some of the instruments from the case – the large one on top is for A = 300m and 350m (scale 1:1000)
Comparison of size of instruments for (top) A = 60m and 65m, and (bottom) A = 30m and 35m (scale 1:1000)
Instrument for A = 30m and 35m (Scale 1:1000)
A protractor came along with the set but I assume other instruments such as a compass were used in drawing/drafting the curves.
I shall take photos of the other set when I get to visit the other office. These will be for records purposes as well as for posterity. These are practically museum pieces that are now perhaps rarely if even used.
Is the concept of induced demand a hard sell?
Here’s a quick share of an article on ‘induced demand’ particularly why it appears to be a hard sell:
Blumgart, J. (February 28, 2022) “Why the concept of induced demand is a hard sell,” Governing, https://www.governing.com/now/why-the-concept-of-induced-demand-is-a-hard-sell [Last accessed: 3/8/2022]
To quote from the article:
“Transportation experts say that the way to defeat induced demand, and actually ease traffic, would be to price roadways through tolls and congestion fees. But such alternatives are not popular. It’s hard to imagine running a political campaign on such a promise, as opposed to pledging an answer that looks free and easy… “Highway expansion is an attractive project regardless of your political orientation or what the state of the economy is,” says Thigpen. “There’s always a good argument for why we should be expanding highways. We need more jobs, or we need to unlock economic opportunity. There’s always a good political argument in favor of that.”
That last statement there relating highway or road expansion to politics is relevant everywhere. In our case in the Philippines, politicians are perceived to be very conservative and the type to use road projects as accomplishments. They are not as progressive as politicians abroad who may have the backgrounds and/or advocacies relating to sustainable transport to pursue the more difficult programs and projects needed improve the transport system. Instead, most are content with projects that they can put their name on and claim as hard accomplishments. Many of their constituents appear to agree. And agencies like the DPWH are only too happy to support this never-ending road construction and widening projects with the length of roads and the number of lanes added being their metrics for success. Of course, these (e.g., understanding and how to address induced demand, performance metrics, etc.) need to change if we really want to transform our transportation system towards something more efficient for everyone’s benefit.
Farewell to the arch?
Arches (arko) were a common sight along national roads across the country. I have written about these arkos in previous posts including those with old photos that I took while on field work:
With all the road widening projects ongoing along many national roads, many arches have been demolished while new ones apparently have not been constructed (whether really new ones or those replacing the old ones). I still think these are good landmarks and an opportunity to feature products, traditions or whatever may represent or identify the city or municipality.
Is it difficult to understand the phenomena of induced demand?
I’m sharing a recent article that laments about how transport departments in the US seemingly don’t understand the concept and phenomena of induced demand. Is it really difficult to understand or are transport officials including highway planners and engineers deliberately ignoring what’s staring them in the face?
Zipper, D. (September 28, 2021) “The Unstoppable Appeal of Highway Expansion,” Bloomberg City Lab, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2021-09-28/why-widening-highways-doesn-t-bring-traffic-relief [Last accessed: 10/10/2021]
The topic in the article is very much applicable to our own Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). The DPWH’s key performance indicators (KPIs) need to change from the typical “kilometers of road constructed” or “lane-kilometers of roads widened” to something like “travel time between points A and B”. Agencies like the DPWH always like to claim they are for solving traffic congestion but we already know widening roads just won’t cut it. It has to be more comprehensive than that and involve the entire transport system rather than just a part (i.e., the road). And it has to be a collaborative effort with various other agencies like the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and local government units. Unfortunately, too, these agencies like the DOTr and those under it, and many (not all) LGUs also like to go at it solo so we end up with piecemeal solutions that are also often out of context.
On the other benefits of cycling – pavements
Here is a very interesting article that tackles a not so obvious benefit of switching to cycling:
Dion, R. (July 12, 2021) “Biking’s Billion-Dollar Value, Right Under Our Wheels,” Planetizen, https://www.planetizen.com/features/113986-bikings-billion-dollar-value-right-under-our-wheels?utm_source=newswire&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=news-07262021&mc_cid=51555c9a39&mc_eid=9ccfe464b1 [Last accessed: 8/4/2021]
To quote: “A strategic switch to biking would dramatically reduce the depth of roads, saving untold billions over the next generation.”
This is relevant from the perspective of highway engineering particularly concerning pavement design, construction and maintenance. It is intriguing, too, since pavement design (and consequently pavement thickness) is not necessarily correspondent to light vehicle traffic volumes. In the Philippines, for example, only heavy vehicles are considered for the pavement load estimation. It is assumed that light vehicle traffic, which compose most of the traffic along roads contribute mainly to pavement weathering rather than structural aspects.
On how animals can safely cross highways
Here is a quick share of an article regarding animal crossings and roads/highways:
I thought the article was interesting not just because it featured animal crossings but because the very same ideas and design interventions may be adopted for humans as well. Indeed, there will be cost implications but that is only because we have been accustomed to designs that favor car use more than the movement of people. Perhaps we should rethink how we design infrastructure such as our roadways for them to be favoring active transport and employing more nature or environment-friendly features.
Infanta, Quezon Arch
I was just writing about the arches you typically came across as you traveled by road around the Philippines. A former student of mine posted a photo of the arch welcoming travelers to Infanta, Quezon from Rizal province, and I asked to have a copy of the photo. He is an avid cyclist who goes on long rides. The arch bears the seal of the town but few other symbols (that I am familiar with) that could have represented the municipality. Here is a typical low-traffic highway with two lanes and dirt shoulders along either side of the road leading to something mysterious (see that fog/mist at the end of the road?).
Road to Infanta, Quezon [Photo credit: Dexter Cuizon]