Architects and urban planning experts are joining UST’s opposition to a plan by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to build a flyover on Lacson Avenue, warning that the project could result in “urban decay.”

The government wants to construct a flyover along Lacson Avenue and later a Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 9 along España Boulevard “to alleviate traffic congestion at this major intersection.”

According to the plan, the four-lane flyover will be 1,440 meters in length—as high as the five-storey Roque Ruaño building—to allow the proposed MRT 9 rail to pass underneath.

Enrique Sta. Maria, in-house architect of the Facilities Management Office, said a flyover would destroy the cityscape of Manila, citing New York’s Roosevelt Highway and Roosevelt Island which were both left in decay.

“The cityscape will be destroyed because of the pollution that will be generated [by the flyover],” he said.

Noise from passing vehicles could disrupt classes in the Albertus Magnus and Roque Ruaño buildings, while road widening of Lacson Avenue would affect the flow of vehicles coming in and out of the UST Hospital, including the clinical division’s ramp.

Rizalito Mercado, a professor from the College of Architecture, said flyovers in general spoil landscapes.

“With so many flyovers, it detaches, distorts and scars the city,” he said. “The flyover’s automobile-centric design will ‘dehumanize’ the city and separate the people since it focuses on vehicles instead of pedestrian mobility.”

Architect Jose Ling echoed Mercado, saying Lacson Avenue would still end up with heavy traffic due to the narrow streets of Manila.

“[A flyover] won’t make Lacson [Avenue] any wider,” said Ling, who owns an architectural firm.

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Meanwhile, Architect Jijet Villanueva of AIDEA, another architectural firm, said a flyover is not the best solution to decongest traffic given that a number of intersections and side streets are connected to Lacson.

“If not provided with proper planning, flyovers sometimes create a demarcation within the city which results in having psychological and social barriers to the people,” he said.

Moreover, the construction of an MRT line along España Boulevard would make UST suffer the same fate as the Taft Avenue-based De La Salle University—visual blights, shadows, and spray noise.

“[MRT] will form a barrier, because the area of the city will be separated when it should be integrated,” Villanueva said. “Having an elevated MRT system can be a visual disturbance in the area and will affect the business and lifestyle of the surrounding community.”

‘Sufficient’ data

The DPWH-Urban Roads Project Office (URPO) and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), are citing a 2004 study to support the P900-million flyover construction budget.

“Through the impact of the studies we made, we found out that the level of service in the area has already plunged to the ‘F level’,” DPWH-URPO Director Danilo Idos said, referring to the worst condition of traffic.

The road widening of Lacson Avenue was already approved by the Project Management Office, he said.

Idos added that DPWH-URPO had met with officials of Department of Environment and Natural Resources to discuss the tree-cutting permit they had requested.

“The trees which have a measurement of 30 centimeters or more will be cut down,” he said, adding that he was waiting for the traffic impact assessment of the project to resume.

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But Sta. Maria said the joint studies of DPWH-URPO and MMDA which focus on the traffic volume in a given time are misguided.

“The question is, where would you transfer this volume of traffic if you closed the road?” he asked.

Sta. Maria pointed out that other countries prefer an underground passage to a flyover.

Villanueva said there are a lot of means to avert or reduce traffic. “Traffic management and road etiquette for commuters and road users are just some of the possible solutions,” he said.

An integrated master plan with design technology adaptation and transit-oriented developments is imperative to solve traffic-related problems, Villanueva added.

Mercado, meanwhile, suggested the implementation of a “green wave,” wherein a series of traffic lights will be coordinated over intersections heading to one direction, allowing traffic to flow fluidly.

Threat to heritage site

Former rector Fr. Rolando de la Rosa opposed the plan, saying that UST, which was declared a national cultural and heritage site in 2010, must have surroundings “that are maintained and protected from urban decay.”

Architect Augusto Villalon agreed with De la Rosa, saying that among other requirements, heritage structures must not be obstructed.

“A flyover will seriously block sight lines,” he said.

For Villanueva, cultural, social, and environmental significances must be considered in evaluating a heritage site.

“The surrounding landscape and the natural environment in the area of UST is a big factor in conserving and protecting the overall site context,” he said, adding that all visible infrastructure should be sensitive to the setting of the area.

Likewise, Mercado said the urban design around the UST area should be rethought in reverence to the Pontifical University. The mushrooming of condominiums around UST must also be addressed.

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“If they have an ounce of respect for UST, they wouldn’t even have thought of [building a flyover] in the first place, because I believe it’s a heritage [site],” he said. Kristelle Ann A. Batchelor and Andre T. Santiago

1 COMMENT

  1. TRAFFIC DISCIPLINE LANG KELANGAN JAN.. wala na kelangan gawen na infrastructure. isipin nalang kung pano madidisiplina ang mga tao. yun ang dapat pagaralan

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