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There was a comment on a previous article asking if the pedestrian overpass across Vermont Royale along Marcos Highway is already usable. The photo in that article showed a still-to-be modified overpass. Following are photos taken last Sunday of the overpass. It shows the lowered mid-section passing under the Line 2 extension structure.
Last March 9, traffic was terrible along Marcos Highway and roads connecting to it including Imelda Avenue and Sumulong Highway due to a truck that slammed into the scaffolding of the Line 2 Extension across the Sta. Lucia Mall, and barely missing the newly constructed column supporting the girders and elevated tracks of Line 2.
[Photo not mine but sent by an officemate who was glad to have taken his motorcycle that day instead of commuting by car.]
Following are comments I captured from Waze as I tried to get information about the traffic situation:
It is very clear from travelers’ comments that most were frustrated and many were angry about what seemed to be a very slow response from authorities in clearing the crash site and getting traffic to move faster. I myself wondered how a crash like this with its impacts manifesting in severe congestion along major roads was not dealt with as urgently as possible by so many entities that were not without capacity to act decisively. The front liner should have been the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and there were at least four local government units directly affected by the congestion: Pasig, Marikina, Cainta and Antipolo. Surely, these LGUs could have done more if the MMDA couldn’t, in order to resolve the problem? If the availability of heavy equipment was an issue, weren’t there available equipment from Line 2 contractor, DMCI, or perhaps from the construction sites nearby (Ayala is constructing a huge mall near the area.)? Surely, they could lend a payloader or mobile crane that can remove the truck or at least help unblock the area?
I finally decided to turn back and work from home instead that day. Later, I learned that authorities had to stop traffic along Marcos Highway around 11:00 AM in order to tow the truck and clear the area for traffic to normalize. I hope this serves as a lesson in coordination among government entities and that future incidents like this will not results in a “carmaggedon” like Friday’s congestion. One thing that also became obvious is that travelers passing the area are all dependent on road-based transport and the primary reason why a lot of people were affected by the crash. The expanded operations of the Line 2, whenever that will be, will surely change transport in these areas and for the better.
Marcos Highway is part of my regular commuting route and so I have been able to observe the progress of the construction of the elevated tracks for the extension of Line 2. The contractor, DMCI, is nearing the completion of their part of the project. Unfortunately, the stations and the electrical/power systems for the extension have not been bidded out by the DOTr and so there are not a few doubts whether the extension will be operational by 3rd quarter of 2017, which is the original completion date for the whole project. The construction of the two stations alone are expected to take some time and also will have a big impact on transport and traffic despite the construction sites being more concentrated around the stations at Emerald and Masinag. Here are a couple of photos showing what it looks like along Marcos Highway.
DMCI has almost completed clearing the stretch of Santolan to Masinag of their equipment. The barriers that delineated their work space are mostly gone, freeing up a lane each along either side of Marcos Highway. This has eased traffic along this major thoroughfare connecting Metro Manila to the east.
The pedestrian overpass across Vermont Royale has been retrofitted so the center section passes under the Line 2’s structure.
Timing is of the essence for the two additional stations of Line 2. As I said, the projected completion and start of operations was 3rd quarter of 2017. Of course, the last quarter of this year would still be most welcome but further delays mean more losses on the part of commuters and, overall, the government. Perhaps it was a mistake for the previous administration to have not included the stations in the package that DMCI eventually got and now has almost completed? Maybe the current administration should expedite the remaining parts of the Line 2 extension. This should prove how serious the current government is with its promises for better public transport (i.e., mass transport).
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:
The 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.
Note 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.
A 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.
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.
Overpass 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.
Overpasses 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.
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.
The approach to this curve reveals the uneven terrain on which the road was built.
These row houses and their driveways seem too close to the road
That’s a poorly placed driveway right in the middle of the curve
Many motorists tend to overtake slower moving vehicles via the opposing traffic lane. Here is a bus undertaking a passing maneuver at a curve!
Rockslide – these are frequent along mountain roads such as Marcos Highway. They are even more frequent along Kennon Road and Naguilian Highway.
Yet another section this time showing a reverse curve.
Here 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.
Many sections of Marcos Highway have excellent sight distance and have usable, paved shoulders.
There 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.
I 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.
The curve is not a good location for a home.
The 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.
The 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).
Curve 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.
Marcos Highway offers many breathtaking views and excellent sight distance along many portions.
This is the final stretch of Marcos Highway that terminates at the intersection with the Manila North Road, which is part of AH-26.
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.
Many 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.
There are many structures along the highway including houses and stores
The mountain limits sight distance along curves like this.
We 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.
This 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.
Combination of signs to guide motorists along this sharp curve.
Curved sections like this one offer breathtaking views of the mountains.
Shoulders 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.
More examples of poorly located establishments along a curve
The road seems to disappear in the mountains
Conspicuous location for a religious site along the highway
More motorcyclists and their big bikes
Barriers 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.
A residential community along the highway including this big house just clear of the shoulder.
Another 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!