LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 30 (PNA) —- Albay third district Representative Fernando V. Gonzales said if the serious traffic along Maharlika highway in Bicol could not be resolved, it could turn out to be like the Epifanio De Los Santos Ave. or EDSA in Metro Manila in five years’ time.
He cited the one-hour travel time from Ligao City, northwest of this city, to the Legazpi Domestic Airport in this city, which is a 24.6-kilometer distance.
Gonzales said if there was no traffic congestion in the towns of Guinobatan, Camalig and Daraga before reaching Legazpi City, travel from Ligao to the airport would only take 25 to 30 minutes.
He said one of the causes of traffic congestion at the Maharlika highway in Bicol is the increasing number of commercial roro (roll on-roll off) trucks and buses that pass through this highway en route to Visayas and Mindanao.
Gonzales said the implementation of the expansion project of the Maharlika highway in the Bicol area is not helping to ease the traffic problem.
“It is not actually an expansion project with another lane added on both sides of the highway but… the project is just actually… a concreting of the shoulder of the highway," he said.
Gonzales said the expanded shoulders are now being used as parking spaces of trucks, buses and other vehicles and as an alternative parking area of automotive shops.
He said the traffic congestion along Maharlika-Bicol is the same as the problem in the Southern Tagalog region, Samar and Leyte in Visayas and in Mindanao because most of the commercial roro trucks, buses and other vehicles bound for the south and vice versa prefer to use the Maharlika highway than the cargo ships.
Gonzales said the completion of the government’s infrastructure projects, especially the Philippine Diversion highway, will be the only solution to the traffic congestion along Maharlika Highway in Bicol.
He pointed to the uncompleted part of the Philippine Diversion highway from San Fernando town in Camarines Sur to the site of the Bicol International Airport in Daraga, Albay, which is around 106 kilometers, that passes the side of the western coastal towns of Camarines Sur and Albay provinces.
“The project still needs billion of pesos to complete but it will help a lot to ease the traffic congestion along Maharlika highway once it is completed,” said Gonzales.
He said just like the Quirino highway, that is around 1.78 kms and under the jurisdiction of Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) region, and the Andaya highway, that is around 61.17 kms and under the jurisdiction of the Bicol region, the part of the nation's diversion highway between Albay and Camarines Sur, from Sipocot, Camarines Sur to Tagkawayan, Quezon and Sta Elena, Camarines Norte could be converted as an expressway.
Gonzales said it is no longer advisable to make the Maharlika Highway the expressway of the south due to the buildings and permanent residential structures along its side and it will be more expensive for the government to push through with this plan.
He said it will be more economical and feasible if the diversion highway will be converted as an expressway with wide lanes.
“The construction of the expressway from Metro Manila to Lucena City in Quezon province could also be connected all the way to the Quirino highway and Andaya Highway in Camarines Sur,” said Gonzales. (PNA) LAP/GVR/JH/cbd