By ANNA MAE Y. LAMENTILLO
When I was still in elementary, my father Manuel Lamentillo would tell me about the San Juanico Bridge, a 2.16-km bridge connecting the island provinces of Samar and Leyte. Whenever we went home to Iloilo, I’d often wonder why we had to take boats or airplanes to travel to nearby Negros Occidental. There were not many bridges at that time. The Candaba viaduct — a 5-km bridge connecting the provinces of Pampanga and Bulacan — is the longest bridge in the Philippines and it was built in 1976, over four decades ago.
This will no longer be the case with the Duterte Administration’s Mega Bridge Project, a series of short and long-span bridges linking island provinces to eventually connect Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao via land travel.
According to Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar, the first project under the masterplan — the Panguil Bay Bridge, a 3.7-km bridge connecting Tangub City in Misamis Occidental and Tubod in Lanao del Norte, will start construction within the year. Once completed in 2021, travel time between Tangub and Tubod will be reduced from 2.5 hours to only 10 minutes. It will also shorten travel time between Ozamiz City in Misamis Occidental and Mukas, Kolambugan, in Lanao del Norte from 2.5 hours (using RORO operations) to only 20 minutes.
Detailed Engineering Design of the Guicam Bridge in Zamboanga Sibugay, and three bridges in Tawi-Tawi (Nalil-Sikkiat Bridge, Tongsinah-Paniongan Bridge and Malassa-Lupa Pula Bridge) are also included in the Improving Growth Corridors in Mindanao Road Sector Project (IGCMRSP). Civil works will commence by last quarter of 2018.
The preparation of Feasibility Study and Detailed Design of these game-changing high-impact projects, such as the 22-km Bohol-Leyte Bridge, the 5.5-km Negros-Cebu Bridge, the 24.5- km Cebu-Bohol Bridge, the 18.2-km Luzon (Sorsogon)-Samar Bridge, the 4.4-km Davao-Samal Bridge, and the 28-km Bataan-Cavite Inter-Link Bridge will be undertaken under the Infrastructure Preparation and Innovation Facility (IPIF) funded by ADB. The feasibility study will be completed by December 2018- 1st quarter of 2019.
The Bohol-Leyte Link Bridge, a 22-km bridge linking Bohol and Leyte provinces, is expected to reduce travel time from 3 hours (using RORO) to only 40 minutes.
The Negros Cebu Link Bridge, a 5.5-km bridge linking Negros and Cebu, is expected to reduce travel time from 40 mins (using RORO) to only 10 minutes.
The Cebu-Bohol Link Bridge, a 24.5-km bridge linking Cebu and Bohol, is expected to reduce travel time from 2 hours and 10 minutes (using RORO) to only 30 minutes.
The Luzon (Sorsogon)-Samar Link Bridge is a 18.2-km bridge connecting the Island of Samar in Eastern Visayas to the main island of Luzon (Allen-Matnog). Travel time will be reduced from 3 hours and 20 minutes (using RORO) to only 40 minutes.
The Davao-Samal Link Bridge is a one-km bridge linking the Island Garden City of Samal and Davao City. Travel time will be reduced from 26-30 minutes (using RORO) to only 2-5 minutes.
The Bataan-Cavite Interlink Bridge is a 28-km bridge connecting Mariveles in Bataan to Corregidor to Naic in Cavite. Travel time will be reduced from 6 hours to 45 minutes.
The feasibility study for the Panay-Guimaras-Negros (PGN) Island Bridge Project will be undertaken under China financing.
Since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office in June, 2016, DPWH has already widened a total of 511 bridges spanning 23,929 meters, replaced 204 bridges spanning 8,305 meters, and built 127 new bridges spanning 6,260 meters.