MANILA - Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) General Manager Jojo Garcia announced the reopening by this weekend of the EDSA U-turn slot near Quezon City Academy beside SM North Edsa Annex.
Garcia said his office would open 4 lanes on a stop-and-go scheme for the U-turn slot, which will be manned by the QC Department of Public Safety.
For the U-turn slot at Dario bridge, the MMDA will open 10 meters but only for emergency vehicles going to the Quezon City General Hospital (QCGH).
Garcia said the U-turn slot will be opened either Wednesday or at the latest Saturday, in coordination with the QC local government.
“Pinakamatagal na yung Sabado na we’ll open this up dahil Christmas holiday naman, marami na yung volume. Pero I will assure everyone na even though we’re opening this one, hindi natin binibigyan ng pabor yung kokonti na private,” Garcia said.
(The latest would be Saturday, because it is the Christmas holiday and there will be a huge volume of vehicles. But I will assure everyone that even though we're opening this one, we are not favoring private vehicles.)
In a subsequent phone call, Garcia clarified to ABS-CBN that the plan was to open by Friday or Saturday.
Garcia also told members of the House Committee on Metro Manila Development that the QC government agreed to shoulder part of the construction of elevated busways.
Garcia said he has discussed the matter of the U-turn slots with QC Mayor Joy Belmonte. They discussed the construction of an elevated bus lane in about 4 months. Once these are up, U-turn slots can be opened under the elevated busways.
Garcia conceded to lawmakers there were negatives to the closure of the U-turn slots along EDSA -- from Quezon Avenue to Balintawak -- as this led to the spillover of vehicles.
But he added bus commuters have been able to travel faster, while those on private vehicles can also travel faster on non-peak hours.
Garcia said that, before the closure of the U-turn slots to give way to the EDSA Busway scheme, traffic jams on EDSA was common. But now traffic jams only occur at certain times of the day.
QC lawmakers, 6th District Rep. Kit Belmonte and 1st District Rep. Onyx Crisologo, welcomed the MMDA’s decision.
Earlier in the hearing, Crisologo narrated how the closure of U-turn slots led to a spillover of vehicular traffic that has reached the areas of Bago Bantay and Visayas Avenue.
Crisologo said the volume of vehicles using the U-turn slot on EDSA corner Quezon Avenue occupies 2 lanes.
In a press release, panel chair and Manila 1st District Rep. Manuel Luis Lopez vowed Tuesday that the committee would scrutinize the closure of many U-turn slots on EDSA by the MMDA, including its proposed bus-only flyover project.
“The traffic problem on EDSA has been a perennial one. It seems that this problem has now been compounded by the closure of U-turn slots. As we near the Christmas week, we will not be surprised if the problem worsens,” Lopez said in his opening speech during the committee hearing.
“As always, our goal is to examine the policies, programs and implementation process of the various government agencies and branches, and see to it that these are in line with our principles of, as we mentioned in the beginning, good governance and genuine service to the public.”
The panel has invited several heads of agencies in charge of traffic management system, such as the MMDA and the Department of Transportation, and key stakeholders and representatives of public transport operators and drivers, as well as commuters.
“We hope that this dialogue will bring about positive results and solutions, both on a short-term and long-term basis,” Lopez said.
The lawmaker also cited that the committee received a copy of a letter from Crisologo addressed to the MMDA regarding the same topic, and the proposal of Belmonte to either reopen or regulate of U-turn slots in EDSA, particularly when buses are not plying the “carousel lane.”
“This committee, in conducting hearings, has always been guided by the principles of good governance, public interest and genuine service to our people. As of late, these principles are again put to test, as we have received numerous complaints pertaining to the closure of most of the U-turn slots in EDSA. All sectors, be it those from the public transport, passengers, and private car road users, are unanimous in voicing out their opposition to such U turn closure," the congressman from Tondo said.
“I understand, Rep. Onyx raised the complaints of his constituents who are inconvenienced by the volume of vehicles that clog-up from the North Avenue area up to Balintawak, from the time the U-turn slots in Trinoma, QC Academy, Panorama, and Dario River were closed. Later on, we will hear directly from Rep. Onyx, as he will be the one to give the details pertaining to the complaints in his district,” Lopez added.