Ever since a massive landslide blocked major portions of the 33.5 km Kennon Road last August, the major thoroughfare been indefinitely closed to the public. And with the rainy season now in full swing, it looks like one of the fastest ways to get to Baguio will remain inaccessible by motorists.
Hopes for the road being opened to the public once more have been dampened further after the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), along with Office of Civil Defense – Cordillera (OCD – C) announced plans of closing it for 3 years to do rehabiliation works.
In this year alone, more than 5 landslides have already happened due to heavy rains. And with the harsh weather no signs of letting up, conducting repair works on the the 114-year old road may be the best course of action.
“In the next 3 years, there will be slope protection done, as well as road-widening,” said Engineer Bonifacio Dela Pena, City Adminsitrator, Baguio.
Aside from those, the DPWH will also be doing rock-netting in order for the land on top of the mountain to be more stable. They also plan on building retaining walls in order to keep rocks or other debris from causing future landslides.
Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong is in favor of closing Kennon Road for 3 years due to the many unstable sections that dot the two-lane road. According to the 58-year old Mayor, there are 21 critical points along Kennon Road which make it dangerous for both residents and motorists. Magalong even went on to say that the current slope protection design is wrong, and that the cause of the slopes eroding are due to human-related activities.
“Mayroong mga babuyan na na-saturate ng tubig 'yung soil, mayroong garden, mayroong ginagawang kalsada sa taas na our public highways (Department of Public Works and Highways) were not even aware...ang dami rin problema talaga doon,” said Magalong. [There are piggeries that saturate the soil, gardens, as well as roads that the Department of Public Works and Highways don't even know were constructed. There are plenty of problems over there]
While the 3-year closure will cause some unnecessary hardships for tourists and locals alike, Magalong said that it is for the better in order to make sure that no disasters happen in the future.