Lacson flyover project pushes through

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DESPITE strong opposition from UST officials, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is pushing through with the plan to build a flyover along Lacson Avenue.

Alex Bote, DPWH project manager of the Lacson flyover since 2014, said the start of the construction period was moved to late 2016 due to revisions in the design.

The four-lane flyover, aimed at easing traffic woes in the area, was originally designed to start at Alcantara Street and end near Dapitan Street. The endpoint has been extended three blocks further to Aragon Street.

The structure was also reduced to second-level height from the third level after the Department of Transportation and Communication junked its plan to build a Mass Rapid Transit line, which would have occupied the second-level height at España Boulevard.

The Lacson flyover was proposed in early 2012. It would have been completed in September had construction begun in October 2014.

Road widening began in June 2012 but was suspended in September the same year after UST opposed the project. In May 2013, the flyover project was put on hold to make way for an underpass project at España Boulevard. A month later, the DPWH reverted to its plan to build the flyover, with revisions in the design.

Bote said the flyover’s revised detailed engineering design (DED) would be completed by the second or third quarter of 2016.

The DED is the bridge between the basic engineering design and the construction phase of the project. It includes the structure’s final design, specifications, and estimates, among others.

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Bote added that the budget for the flyover would double to P1.6 billion from its original budget of about P800 million because of the extension.

‘Strong reservations’

UST Rector Fr. Herminio Dagohoy, O.P. said in a letter to the Varsitarian dated Jan. 22 that UST “expressed its strong reservations on the construction of the proposed Lacson flyover” in a meeting held June 2014 between the Council of Regents and the DPWH.

Fr. Dagohoy listed UST’s concerns raised in the meeting, such as “issues of safety and security; the need for a noise barrier because of its proximity to the hospital, Roque Ruaño and Albertus Magnus buildings; peace and order; access to and from the campus and the overall architectural design of the project.”

Lawrence Pangan, in-house engineer of the UST Facilities Management Office, echoed Fr. Dagohoy’s sentiments and said alternative traffic routes were needed. The DPWH must also reduce noise pollution during construction.

“[The DPWH] should have a concrete [plan to protect the campus population],” Pangan said in an interview, adding that noise would remain a concern even when the flyover becomes operational because of vehicle traffic.

Bote said the DPWH had sent engineers to Japan to “adopt up-to-date noise barriers” for the flyover. Alternative traffic routes will be announced once the new DED is completed.

‘Public domain’

The project’s construction phase will also require a five-meter reduction of the Lacson sidewalks, which will result in the removal of the UST Hospital’s Clinical Division ramp.

Civil Law Dean Nilo Divina said the DPWH should observe the legal process before removing the ramp. UST’s legal right to the ramp depended on whether or not the ramp had encroached on the sidewalk, he said.

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College of Architecture Dean John Joseph Fernandez, in a July 2012 article published by the Varsitarian, said the ramp did encroach on public domain, but there would be a “design solution” upon the removal of the ramp.

However, Divina said that unless the ramp was a nuisance per se, it could not be removed without “judicial intervention.”

“It was built primarily to cater to the needs of its patients who are mostly members of the community,” Divina said. “If DPWH believes that the ramp encroaches on the sidewalk, it should observe the proper and legal way of doing things; otherwise, court injunction will be available to UST as a remedy.” With reports from Monica M. Hernandez

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