UNDERPASS FOR BRT?
While work on the two-lane underpass along Natalio Bacalso Avenue continues, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña is proposing that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)-funded project will instead be used as part of the Bus Rapid Transit network and that its two lanes be dedicated to BRT buses.
WITH the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system now closer to reality, questions arose on how a current Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) underpass project along N. Bacalso Avenue would fit into the planned 21.5-kilometer BRT route spanning Barangay Bulacao, south of Cebu City, all the way up to Barangay Talamban in the north.
For Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña, the two-way underpass now being built by DPWH-7 along N. Bacalso Ave. should be dedicated lanes for the BRT system.
“The tunnel (underpass) will be dedicated to the buses. We are coordinating with DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways),” he said.
From Barangay Bulacao, the BRT route will pass through N. Bacalso Ave., then to Osmeña Blvd., Escario St., the Banilad-Talamban (Ban-Tal) Road until Barangay Talamban.
DPWH-7 Project Engineer Roy dela Cruz admitted that the agency was not entirely able to consider the BRT project when the agency made plans for the underpass.
Dela Cruz said they will wait for a formal request from the mayor regarding his proposal to make the underpass a BRT-dedicated lane as this was originally intended for private vehicles only.
“It is the (DPWH) regional director who will decide on
that,” said Dela Cruz.
Changes, he said, will have to be coordinated with DPWH’s planning division and the Cebu City Transportation Office.
DPWH-7 Regional Director Ador Canlas, for his part, said that he had yet to hear about the mayor’s proposal and will reserve any comment.
The P683-million underpass project will also include two-lane service roads on each side of the underpass.
The 700-meter underpass is located in the intersection of N. Bacalso Ave. and F. Llamas St.
“One-fourth of the bored piles have been installed already. That is good news. We are ahead of schedule,” Dela Cruz said of the project which is divided into six phases.
Phase 1 of the project which started last August 8 is expected to be completed in three to four months.
With a BRT system in place, the mayor estimates the trip from Bulacao to Ayala to be no more than 20 minutes.
“The buses are five minutes apart. So each bus is about 500 meters apart. There’s nothing in between. All the cars are stocked up in the side. The bus would replace 15 jeepneys,” Osmeña explained.
He added that rides will be smooth as buses will only stop at designated stations to pick up waiting passengers.
The BRT system is meant to encourage more people to take up mass transport instead of driving their own cars.
The project recently got an additional budget of P5.69 billion after a request was approved by the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) board chaired by President Rodrigo Duterte. From an earlier approved budget of P10.6 billion, Cebu’s BRT project will now cost P16.3 billion.