Manila Bulletin

EDSA de­con­ges­tion master­plan: Con­nect­ing NLEX and SLEX in 30 min­utes

- ANNA MAE LAMENTILLO

The prob­lem sur­round­ing the 90-year-old Epi­fanio de los San­tos Av­enue (EDSA) — a 23.8 km cir­cum­fer­en­tial high­way — needs no in­tro­duc­tion. The pro­ject which was started in the 1930’s has long ex­ceeded its max­i­mum ca­pac­ity of 288,000 ve­hi­cles a day. Now, there are about 402,000 ve­hi­cles us­ing the align­ment ev­ery day — 39% more than its in­tended ca­pac­ity.

In­evitably, the ab­sence of any sub­stan­tial in­fra­struc­ture in­ter­ven­tion has re­sulted in a con­ges­tion level of about 71% — the sec­ond worst traf­fic con­ges­tion in the world. In other words, drivers in Metro Manila would need to spend an av­er­age of 71% ex­tra travel time in traf­fic.

But the con­ges­tion dilemma has also be­come a source of eco­nomic frus­tra­tion. In 2012, the Philip­pines lost R2.4 bil­lion a day due to Metro Manila traf­fic. Six years later, a study con­ducted by the Ja­pan In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion Agency said the num­ber had gone up to R3.5 bil­lion.

This is about to change with the com­ple­tion of the EDSA De­con­ges­tion Master­plan — a net­work of 23 in­fra­struc­ture projects meant to con­nect the north­ern and south­ern most part of Manila within a span of 20 to 30 min­utes.

From the on­set of the Duterte ad­min­is­tra­tion, Pub­lic Works and High­ways Sec­re­tary Mark Vil­lar has been work­ing on a plan that would di­vert about 200,000 away from EDSA, C5, and other ma­jor thor­ough­fares.

One of the 23 projects un­der the EDSA De­con­ges­tion Master­plan is the Metro Manila Sky­way Stage 3 Pro­ject — an 18.30-km el­e­vated ex­press­way from Buen­dia in Makati City to the North Lu­zon Ex­press­way (NLEX) in Bal­intawak, Que­zon City.

The pro­ject which is com­posed of five sections is ex­pected to de­con­gest traf­fic in EDSA, C5, and other ma­jor thor­ough­fares (e.g. Que­zon Av­enue, Araneta Av­enue, Nag­ta­han Av­enue, and Quirino Av­enue) by at least 55,000 ve­hi­cles daily.

Now that the pro­ject is com­pleted, travel time from Makati to Que­zon City will be re­duced from 2 hours to only 15 to 20 min­utes. Travel time from NLEX to SLEX will be short­ened from 2 1/2 hours to only 30 min­utes. Res­i­dents of Que­zon City will also be able to reach

NAIA in just 20 min­utes.

Makati to Manila

The open­ing of the Sky­way Stage 3 pro­ject is only a pre­cur­sor to the com­ple­tion of a net­work of big-ticket projects, which will all be com­pleted by 2022.

For in­stance, Sky­way will even­tu­ally con­nect to the newly opened NLEX Har­bor Link Seg­ment 10 and NLEX Ra­dial Road 10 ramp — ef­fec­tively cre­at­ing a di­rect route from Makati to Manila via the NLEX SLEX Con­nec­tor, an 8-km el­e­vated ex­press­way span­ning from C3 Road in Caloocan City to PUP Sta. Mesa in Manila.

This con­nec­tion will ef­fec­tively cre­ate a loop within Metro Manila where ev­ery city is con­nected within a 20 to 30-minute time­frame.

The EDSA De­con­ges­tion Master­plan also in­cludes the BGC Or­ti­gas Link Bridge, the Pan­ta­leon Es­trella Bridge, the Bi­nondo In­tra­muros Bridge, the Katipunan Ex­ten­sion, the La­guna Lake Ex­press­way, and the Min­danao Av­enue Ex­ten­sion, among oth­ers.

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