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Traffic management schemes for the Marcos Highway bridge rehab
The rehabilitation of the Marcos Highway Bridge in Marikina has necessitated traffic management schemes at the bridge itself and along alternative routes to alleviate congestion in the area. These are collectively called traffic or transport systems management (TSM) schemes with the objective of optimising existing infrastructure and resources without necessarily building something entirely new. These are quite different from travel demand management (TDM) schemes that include number coding and truck ban policies that are already being implemented (though Marikina does not implement the number coding scheme).
Traffic build-up at the approach to the intersection with FVR Road (To Riverbanks). This is now a signalised intersection as traffic from Blue Ridge/White Plains is now allowed to cross to FVR Road.
Using the route via FVR Road (Riverbanks) means you don’t have to cross the Marcos Highway Bridge and travellers will merge with those who crossed the bridge just before the Line 2 Santolan Station.
In the mornings, one lane each is allocated for either the eastbound or westbound traffic. That’s practically a total of 3 lanes (+2 lanes westbound for the SM Marikina Bridge) for the westbound direction and a single lane for the eastbound side. This is logical given the directional distribution of traffic at this time of day and the alternative routes already available to travellers.
Here are a few photos taken on a night time drive. Note that this was taken by a passenger. Don’t even try doing this (taking photos) while driving a vehicle, and especially not while on a motorcycle.
Entrance to the bridge right after Maj. Dizon – this part is not affected by the rehab works but vehicles position themselves to shift towards the left side, which is the usable part of the bridge.
Both lanes of the westbound side of the bridge are used for eastbound traffic. Westbound traffic are all along the SM Marikina bridge for a total of 2 lanes each for either direction of flow. The cones are not removed for practicality since they would have to be installed for the morning when one lane is allocated for the westbound traffic.
Vehicles shift to the right to return to the correct lanes for eastbound traffic along Marcos Highway at the Santolan area. Note the westbound vehicles shifting towards the underpass and SM Marikina on the left.
On the impacts of the closure of the Marcos Highway Bridge
The Marcos Highway Bridge was scheduled for rehabilitation in the next four months starting last week. While it will not be totally closed to traffic, the scheme reducing its capacity will surely lead to congestion along Marcos Highway. This congestion should be expected along other roads as well, as travellers, particularly those taking private transport will be using alternative routes in order to avoid this area. Those coming from the east will likely go through Marikina City via the parallel route comprised of Sumulong Highway and A. Bonifacio Avenue. Others will turn to A. Rodriguez (Ligaya). And perhaps others may go via Ortigas Avenue Extension. These alternative routes correspond to the other bridges crossing the Marikina River connecting the Rizal province and part of Marikina and Pasig to Metro Manila.
A photo of the bridge prior to its partial closure
I will write more on this topic once I get more information on what’s happening to the traffic in the area. Meanwhile, I do know that my usual alternative route via Marikina and Tumana seems to have more than the usual traffic during my commute. While it is easy to attribute this to the partial closure of the Marcos Highway bridge, this could also be just a normal variation in the typical daily traffic for that route.
The ill-located terminal at Ligaya along Marcos Highway
There is a newly constructed public transport terminal in what is popularly known as the Ligaya area along Marcos Highway in Pasig City. The terminal is right across from the new Ayala Feliz Mall. The terminal is mostly unused or under-utilised. The jeepneys and UV Express vehicles that were supposed to use the terminal seldom go there as the natural stop for most coming from Pasig to Marikina would be closer to the junction of Marcos Highway with Amang Rodriguez Avenue. There is also the U-turn slot nearby where many passengers dare to cross to in order to catch a ride. Sinasalubong ng mga tao ang jeepney na lumiliko dito and the traffic enforcers in the area generally turn a blind eye to this.
The practically empty terminal during evenings
Late at night, the terminal is dark with the lights turned off. Most times I pass by the area in the mornings and afternoons, there are few, if any, PUVs at the terminal and you don’t see a congregation of a lot of passengers there as with other terminals. Did Ayala make a mistake with this terminal? For one, it is known already that while this area is a transfer point for many passengers, the location of the terminal with respect to the established U-turn slots make it unsuitable and undesirable for most PUVs. Then there is the impending operations of the Line 2 Extension whose nearest station will be hundreds of meters away across Robinsons Metro East and Sta. Lucia Mall. I think Ayala needs to construct a physical connection to the terminal if only to increase the number of people going there and therefore attract PUVs. Finally, the area is not a terminus (or last stop) for PUVs so it doesn’t make sense for them to spend time there except perhaps during off-peak periods (i.e., for rest). However, it is not attractive even for the latter since there seems to be no amenities including stores or maintenance shops to support PUVs.
Marcos Highway-Felix Avenue-Gil Fernando Avenue pedestrian overpass
Here’s are some photos of the pedestrian overpass structure at the intersection of Marcos Highway, F. Felix Avenue (formerly Imelda Avenue) and Gil Fernando Avenue (formerly A. Tuazon Avenue).
Here’s a view of Marcos Highway and the elevated Line 2 Extension from the structure crossing Felix Avenue between Soliven/Tropical and Sta. Lucia. Also shown is the overpass crossing Marcos Highway.
View towards Sta. Lucia and Robinsons Metro East
Stairs to Sta. Lucia – notice the gap in the railings along the elevated Line 2 superstructure? That is where the Emerald Station will be constructed.
Vermont Royale pedestrian overpass
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.
The modified pedestrian overpass across Vermont Royale along Marcos Highway
That’s a pedestrian and a cyclist using the overpass
Responding to the transport impacts of road crashes
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.
Updates on the Line 2 Extension: What’s next?
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).
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
We start with a series of curves. Here is a section complete with signs and markings to guide and protect road users.
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 position of this driveway is quite risky and motorists from both the highway and the driveway will be blind to each other.
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.