How Pasig and Marikina rivers can rescue Metro Manila

By Buddy Gomez

Posted at Dec 11 2014 01:55 AM | Updated as of Dec 11 2014 09:55 AM

“Imagineering," innovation, thinking out of the box. Whoever said riverways and waterways cannot be utilized as roadways?

In Southern Louisiana, cutting across Lake Pontchartrain, is an elevated freeway, a causeway, a viaduct which is a bridge supported by columns of concrete pilings/footings. The stretch is some 38 kilometers long. It has two parallel two-lane spans. It carries a daily traffic in excess of 40,000 vehicles.

Imagine, then, if you will, and I do invite you all to take this flight of fancy with me. You just may realize that it is not fanciful at all but a revelation that it was simple failure to use bold and imaginative solutions, in other words--neglect--on the part of our national stewardship that we now find Metro Manila already an urban disaster.

What if either or both of Pasig and Marikina Rivers were utilized as the foundation for new toll roadways?

Here is how I imagine it will flow. For our dream project, the principal terminus could either be the forthcoming redevelopment of the Pandacan petroleum depot, spoken of in last week’s blog (which is almost midway along the Pasig) and/or alternatively/additionally somewhere behind Fort Santiago in the Intramuros; and, as an indispensable element, there would be a multi-purpose major hub where Pasig River traverses the opening of Marikina River. That space can be made available by eminent domain.

The Manila East-West Pasig Viaduct (shall we call it that?) will rest upon the riparian zones of the Pasig riverbanks and cross over from the north bank to the south, where appropriately strategic. The span will of course stretch upon a series of concrete pilings embedded in the solid rock river bottom. Starting from Del Pan at its Western end, passing through (over or under) Jones, Sta. Cruz, Quezon, Ayala, and Nagtahan bridges and as it approaches the river bends in Paco and Santa Ana, avoids these areas by designing the thoroughfare to cross/pass over this particular stretch of land, coming down in the vicinity where San Juan River connects with the Pasig, proceeding over the river level after Lambingan bridge in Santa Ana. Reaching Mandaluyong, the Viaduct can run along Coronado Street which hugs the river’s edge. The Viaduct proceeds eastwards to EDSA and Guadalupe in Makati. (If you are up to it, Google the map of Manila and trace the river’s path to a resolution where you can actually read the street names. It is fun.) And now, the eastern end of the Pasig Viaduct has reached the vicinity of Eulogio Rodriguez, Jr. better known as C-5.

Serious consideration, therefore, ought to be given towards developing a terminal for public transportation as this is where the Marikina joins the Pasig, also a major population center. The map shows a longish river delta in the middle of the Pasig in this area. It appears unutilized. Also, some use ought to be devised for a wide open space simply designated in the map as “shrubland,” along where Marikina River curves to join the Manggahan Floodway. I think a huge concrete podium (above the level of possible flooding) can be erected over the “shrubland” as an alternate choice for a bus terminal to lessen the load of EDSA or some mixed beneficial and profitable use.

The Marikina River, in tandem with Pasig or separately, is likewise a potential major solution to Metro Manila gridlock. Again, here is how I imagine it to flow. The Marikina Viaduct can either have its concrete columns or footings alongside the riverbank or even on mid-river. It will run north cutting across Ortigas Avenue (east of EDSA) towards Calle Industria, just south of the Eastwood complex. Veering left, it connects with C5, a short distance away. This will create a circuit that can flow along the Marikina Viaduct going north, left on Ortigas Avenue (going west) and left on Edsa, connecting again with the Pasig Viaduct moving east where it interconnects with the Marikina.

It is, of course, expected that facilitation of right-of-way acquisitions, eminent domain be exercised by local authorities as their contribution when it comes to on and off ramps for Viaduct ingress and egress where these are designated.

Where deemed feasible, useful and financially rewarding, there could be a section alongside the Viaduct, where a short-run elevated light passenger monorail system can be installed (as a separate investment), say between Jones Bridge (Escolta) and Pasig City, for residents in between who require shorter distance travel. And in strategic stations, Parking Buildings will be a viable investment.

Here are a few additional salient considerations.

Firstly, Pasig River need not be as wide in some portions nor as shallow where muck and silt have settled. The river can be narrowed and deepened where strategically utile. Hence, some reclamation will be called for as foundation for parking buildings and/or mini-parks, along the Viaduct. Double steel sheet metal pilings can be used as shoring for embankments to be filled with siltage sucked up and siphoned off to deepen certain portions of the river.

Secondly, Metro Manila has never been traversed by any major East to West thoroughfare. We have EDSA, C-5 and Roxas Blvd. All are North-South. Government plans and announced Public-Private Partnership projects are silent as to East-West infrastructure.

Thirdly, there is no right- of-way acquisition hassle since rivers are national patrimony and thus government owned on behalf of the people.

The Manila East-West Pasig Viaduct Toll Road is an investment banking opportunity awaiting the leadership of the likes of the Ayalas, Sys, Angs, Tans, Tys, Consunjis, Pangilinans, et al. I believe it is an investment that will attract widespread people participation, ever-worsening Manila circumstances considered, as financial stakeholders in a massive bond flotation because it is an investment in their very future and for a better life in their metropolis. The Viaduct will inevitably yield the greatest beneficence, perhaps like no other, simply because the dream project can and will snatch a metropolis from the jaws of certain self-strangulating death. Furthermore, it will generate new businesses and employment, thus creating new wealth. Let us face it, in space-starved Metro Manila, there is no other alternative but to make use of the Pasig, as ideated, with possible added permutations from others, instead of continuing to abuse Pasig River as the world’s longest open sewer!

Brainstorming, my friends, is where “imagineering” begins. The exercise requires throwing in all raw ideas first before critiquing. Then follows culling and elimination. More ideas, anyone? Remember, we are rescuing Manila that has been left with absolutely no spatial resource available. Pasig River is the ultimate frontier.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.