It’s been a while since we last did an Infra Manila special on this site. And it’s time we do this special again, in time to check out some new and upcoming infrastructure projects happening around the metropolis right at the beginning of this hopefully better year. Let’s get to what we have to check out in this latest installment.
BGC-Ortigas Center Link Bridge
One of the problems faced with the development of Bonifacio Global City is the lack of wide road networks that would especially connect the area to neighboring business districts of Makati and Ortigas Center. Especially in the case of the Ortigas Center link which was non-existent at all.
That is until plans were unveiled for a bridge crossing the Pasig River and would connect Lawton Avenue in Makati-Taguig, the main northern gateway of Bonifacio Global City, and Sta. Monica Street in Pasig, which is part of the road network that connects to Mandaluyong’s Pioneer district and Pasig’s Kapitolyo, Orambo, and the San Antonio side of Ortigas Center.
Plans for the BGC-Ortigas Center Link Bridge (also known as the Lawton-Sta. Monica Bridge) were announced back in 2014 but construction would only begin in 2017. The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) expects to it to be done, at the very least passable to motorists by the first half of this year. Once completed, it will have 4 lanes, with a lane on each side dedicated to bicycles and pedestrians.
Another bridge along the Pasig River that is under construction can be found right in the heart of Manila itself. The Binondo-Intramuros Bridge is conceived to be a 4-lane bridge as well that would connect the city’s two historically significant districts.
It is also one of the more controversial of the infrastructure projects as well due to concerns that its construction would be a “detriment” to the historic value of Intramuros as a heritage district, particularly as to how it would affect the areas near the project, including Plaza Mexico, the Intendencia/Aduana building, and the Maestranza complex. The project did however get the approval of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the DPWH assured stakeholders that adjustments have made to ensure the preservation and even improvements of the areas affected, including the handling of the long-awaited reconstruction of the Intendencia building.
Work began in 2018 and it is expected to be completed by October this year.
Skyway Stage 3…and beyond
One of the most massive and continuous infrastructure projects that has been in progress over the last 20+ years, the Metro Manila Skyway project began with Stage 1 in 1995 in which an elevated toll expressway was constructed above Osmeña Highway from Gil Puyat Avenue in Makati to Bicutan in Parañaque. Stage 2 in 2009 pushed for a southern extension of the expressway up to Alabang in Muntinlupa, which was completed in 2011.
Then came Stage 3, the ambitious northern extension of the Skyway from Gil Puyat Avenue in Makati all the way up to the Balintawak toll plaza in Quezon City connecting with the North Luzon Expressway. Work began in 2014 and faced numerous delays, including right-of-way issues, a fire in Pandacan which affected construction, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the odds, Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3 was completed by the end of 2020 and was opened to the public on January 15 this year, though some exit ramps are not yet opened until later this year at least.
But the work doesn’t stop there. Currently ongoing is yet another extension of the Skyway in the south, this time extending from Alabang to Susana Heights in Muntinlupa which is expected to be done in February. This particular extension was supposed to be completed in December 2020 alongside Stage 3 but a grave accident occurred in the project site in November, resulting in one fatality and a massive delay to correct the issue that caused the accident.
Then there is the planned northern extension from Balintawak all the way to the planned new Manila International Airport in Bulakan, Bulacan. It’s perhaps the most ambitious segment of Skyway to be constructed, which will serve as one of the main connections of the metropolis to the planned mega airport which is probably the most important piece of infrastructure for the growing Manila megapolis.
Mass rail transit Line 2 East Extension (and a future West extension)
On a personal note, this particular infrastructure project is one that is closest to this Urban Roamer’s heart and that is because this whole Line 2 is the mass transit line that serves the two places closest to me, the one where I grew up (Santa Mesa in Manila) and the one where I am now (Rizal Province). So I very much know the saga of the whole Line 2 project, especially the East Extension from Santolan in Pasig to Masinag in Antipolo, and how much it has gone through more than any other project, at least in the metropolis’ history.
I can tell you how the previous yellow administration, especially that (P)Abaya of a transportation secretary pretty much f*cked the project by “chopping” the components of its construction, which meant that instead of one company handling all aspects of the project, engineering and civil works construction to one company, railtrack laying to another company and electrical works to another one, which greatly slowed down the project’s progress. To think that this extension is only 4 kilometers long, it took 9 f*cking years between approval of the project and its targeted completion date which is April 26 of this year. F*ckin’ finally.
Hopefully, the West Extension of Line 2 from Santa Cruz to the North Harbor in Manila will not take that long to be completed as it is already approved for construction and is currently in the midst of consultative works.
Mass rail transit Line 7
Another mass rail transit project being constructed is the Line 7, which would run from San Jose del Monte in Bulacan to the North Avenue Grand Central Station in Quezon City. This is actually one project that took the longest to implement, having begun life with project approval in 2004 and construction only beginning in 2016 due to various delays, whatever they were! The f*ck.
Between San Jose del Monte and North Avenue, there are 12 stations being constructed though the terminal station at San Jose del Monte is yet to be built due to property issues. (yikes!) While it is estimated that at least a portion of the line from Fairview to North Avenue will be opened by December this year, it is still a tentative one, considering how much work is still needed to be done for the project.
That wraps up this edition of Infra Manila. Hopefully, we get to check out some more infrastructure projects around the metropolis should conditions permit.