THE DEPARTMENT of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has changed its mind anew and reverted to its original plan to build a flyover on Lacson Avenue as a solution to traffic woes, shelving a plan to construct an underpass at España Boulevard.

The decision was made following a study that found that the planned underpass, which was also supposed to function as a catchbasin for floodwater, won’t have an effect on flooding in the area, an official said.

The study was conducted by the DPWH in the second quarter of 2013 to find out the viability of the proposed underpass. The agency decided to scrap the plans in the third quarter after the results showed a flyover would be more practical.

“When the study came up and suggested [the underpass] was not viable, we returned to the previous plan of building a flyover because it already has a complete analysis on traffic and economic impact,” DPWH-NCR Project Manager Alex Bote said in an interview.

The proposed underpass was only considered because of its flood mitigation function, he added. “When they made a study in connection with the [underpass], flood mitigation is only around three centimeters, so the purpose will not be served at all,” Bote said.

Road widening at Lacson started June 2012 in preparation for the construction of the flyover, but strong opposition from UST led to the suspension of work in September the same year.

The following year, DPWH came up with the idea of replacing the flyover with an underpass. Officials even said a P600-budget was allotted for the project.

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Flyover extension

Originally, the Lacson flyover will start at Alcantara Street and will end near Dapitan Street. After revisions to the DPWH designs, the structure will now extend three blocks further to Aragon Street.

“There will be 70 percent less traffic after the adjustments with the flyover,” Bote said, adding that a ramp to Dimasalang Street would accommodate public vehicles and large trucks to reduce congestion at the España-Lacson intersection.

The revised design also reduced the structure’s height to the second level from the third level.

“The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) planned to install a Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) line on the second level but it did not push through, that’s why it (flyover height) was downgraded,” Bote said. “They opted to construct a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) instead.”

The DOTC plans to install the BRT in the middle of España, he said.

The budget for the flyover extension, originally estimated at around P825 million, will double to P1.6 billion, Bote said.

Construction will start in October 2014 and will be finished in September 2016.

Mixed reception

University officials have mixed views on the construction of an extended flyover over Lacson.

For College of Architecture Dean John Joseph Fernandez, the flyover would be acceptable if it served its purpose of easing traffic at the España-Lacson intersection.

“The two-year construction would be a burden for us Thomasians, but then we cannot be so egocentric and think about ourselves,” he said.

Traffic would worsen during construction, Fernandez said, but the convenience would be worth it in the end.

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“It is better if they build it now rather than later when costs eventually go up and other problems arise,” he added.

For Civil Engineering Department Chairperson Rodelio Tiburcio, an underpass would be better for the congested España Boulevard, a major jeepney and bus route.

The underpass however is not the permanent solution to the traffic and flooding problems in the area, because it will be too small to contain flooding during a heavy downpour.

“It’s not a solution because the volume is just going to be that much—the size of the underpass,” Tiburcio said. “It’s not going to have a very big impact on the floods of España.”

The España underpass might have a fate similar to the low-lying Lagusnilad underpass in front of Manila City Hall. Lagusnilad is easily flooded because its pumps are unable to regulate the amount of water that comes in, he said.

“They said it would mitigate flood, but the reality is it wouldn’t be able to control it,” Tiburcio said. “It cannot do anything about the flood.” M.C.C. Rodolfo and M.G.G. Ropero

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