Cebu Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - by Jose Santino S. Bu­na­chita RE­PORTER

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.


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