Expressway a 'death sentence' for Pasig River, says group

Benise Balaoing, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 28 2021 10:25 AM

Watch more on iWantTFC

MANILA – A transport group is opposing the construction of the Pasig River Expressway (PAREX), saying it will not improve the traffic situation in Metro Manila.

Last week, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said San Miguel Corp. signed the supplemental toll operations agreement for the 19.4-kilometer, six-lane elevated expressway expected to connect Road-10 in Manila, EDSA, and C5, and C6.

It will be constructed along the banks of Metro Manila’s biggest river.

“For decades we’ve been building roads, road widening, building flyovers and expressway and yet, here we still are,” said AltMobility PH director Ira Cruz.

“And you know, that’s happening because [of] what we call induced demand. Induced demand is, as we increase the supply of one thing, in this case the roads for cars, we encourage people to keep on driving.”

“You know while we might see some easing of congestion at the beginning of projects like this, demand will just eventually catch up and we’re back to where we began and that’s precisely why PAREX is not the solution,” he explained on ANC’s Rundown.

Cruz added, however, that more than just worsening traffic, the construction of the PAREX will have environmental repercussions too.

“Transportation actually accounts for huge chunk of greenhouse gas emissions. So inducing demand further by encouraging more people to drive will bring, you know noise pollution, air pollution to all of these communities and obviously, the more people use cars, the larger the contribution of transportation will be to air pollution,” he said.

He also stressed that the construction of PAREX negates all the efforts that have been done to revive the Pasig River.

“San Miguel and DOTR are just signing the death sentence of Pasig River. By building PAREX, you literally throw out all of the initiatives and efforts that are being done to revive Pasig River,” he said.

Cruz also stressed that the construction of PAREX will affect heritage structures—such as the Manila Post Office, Intramuros, Escolta, and even Malacañang Palace--built near the Pasig River.

“The pollution it will bring from construction to operation will gravely affect all of these establishments, all of these we call important built heritage,” he said.

“They’re not built to withstand the vibrations of the construction or even the operation. And you know, for a lot of this important built heritage, they will be blocked by PAREX. The views of the Manila Post Office, which we all enjoy when we go to Binondo will forever be gone.”

“It will put to risk the walls of Intramuros and the many others that we shouldn’t be risking for a solution that will not deliver the promise that it supposedly promises,” he said.

In the short term, Cruz said it will be a good idea to build bike lanes in order to improve mobility in the city.

“Thousands of people, even before the pandemic, [have] been relying on biking as a main form of transportation. You know, building bike lanes, even pop-up bike lanes, using things like traffic cones, or even pots, are things that we can already implement today,” he said.

He also said that government can pay for projects that promote active transportation for less than the cost of the PAREX.

“Based on the calculations of the Move As One Coalition of which AltMobilty PH is a member, we need about P14 billion in order to create active transportation facilities like bike lanes and bike racks, and about P76 billion for service contracting, and this is not only addressing the unbelievable insufficient supply of public transportation but also provides jobs. The sustainable kind of jobs.”

“And you know, that’s only a total of P90 billion, still short of the P95 billion to be spent on PAREX. And so, for the same amount of money, we can make a larger difference in terms of mobility for the country.”

Cruz stressed that human-centered infrastructure is the best way to decongest traffic in the city.

“Only by providing, Mike, superior public transportation, quality & human-centered infrastructure for biking and walking, can we truly decongest roads. By using limited city space more efficiently. In fact, that improves mobility for all.”

--ANC, 28 September 2021